Here’s our take on the dramatis personae of Kandukondein Kandukondein.
* Aishwarya Rai is mostly graceless.
* Ajith is generally passionless.
* Abbas is absolutely expressionless.
* Tabu, our inamorata, is divinely peerless. 😉
* Mamooty is typically matchless.
Despite the reckless and habitual vandalism of the Ash-Ajith-Abbas troika on the movie sets, we’d still consider Kandukondein Kandukondein a decent film.
Kandukondein Kandukondein owes its charm primarily to its passable adaptation of Jane Austen’s early 19th century novel Sense and Sensibility (1811) and, to a lesser extent, to director Rajiv Menon’s deft hand at the tiller.
Say what you will, in a crass, class-less Tamil movie film industry this Menon fella shows some class and stands tall.
Movie buffs will recollect Rajiv Menon as the director of the Arvind Swamy-Kajol Mukerji hit Minsara Kanavu and the man behind the camera in Bombay.
Hewing largely to the story in the English novel, Kandukondein Kandukondein traces the fall into straitened circumstances of a widow and her three young daughters.
And follows the gambols in Cupid’s vineyard of the two older daughters as they move from the calm of their Poongudi village to the harsh environs of Chennai and navigate the harsh circumstances of city life and the hard ruts of their love lives.
Srividya plays the mama cat and Tabu, Aishwarya and Shamili her kittens.Â Mamooty, Abbas and Ajith play the beaus.
Charm Fades With Move
The movie chugs along smoothly but we couldn’t help feeling that some of the beguiling charm was lost after the family moves from Poongudi to the big city in pursuit of a livelihood.
You see after their grandfather’s death, Sowmya has lost her job and the family the large house they live in. It’s not a gradual descent into genteel poverty but a rather abrupt, precipitous fall into abject poverty.
Will the family regain its footing? Will the girls find the love they long for?
The photography and costumes are extremely pleasing to the eye.
A gorgeous riot of colors strikes the eyes be it Aishwarya Rai in an orange saree, Tabu in a black and red Arab dress on the desert sands, the centuries-old Scottish castle, the pool in which Tabu and Ash are swimming or the picturization of the songs.
It’s a mighty shame that the fact that cinema is foremost a visual medium is often lost on the schmucks who strut and masquerade around as movie directors in India.
Fortunately, not on Rajiv Menon. This is one man who knows his vibrant colors.
Study in Contrasts
The two older girls Sowmya (Tabu) and Meenakshi (Aishwarya Rai) are a study in contrasts.
One (Meenakshi) is a poet and dreamer, looking for a knight to come and sweep her off her feet and the other (Sowmya), dogged by an undeserved reputation for bringing ill-luck to her suitors, has her feet firmly planted on terra firma and manages a bunch of educational institutions run by the family.
Into their placid lives come three men – a crippled former army commando Bala (Mamooty), a Mercedes-driving finance company hot-shot executive Srikanth (Abbas) and an aspiring film director Manohar (Ajith).
To pair Aishwarya Rai with Abbas is akin to mating a gazelle with a mastodon.
Clueless in the acting department, Abbas and Ajith are the tallest bozos in the menagerie of acting midgets.
Given her relatively tender years and a sparkle in her eyes then, Aishwarya Rai is a little better in Kandukondein Kandukondein than her usual hopeless self.
In one of life’s many injustices, the titless twit Aishwarya Rai seemed to get more screen time than the infinitely more talented and buxom Tabu.
A key appeal of Kandukondein Kandukondein is in its music.
All the songs were not merely euphonic but also well picturized.
But why in the name of God was the title song Kandukondein Kandukondein picturized on that freak Abbas.
Our favorite song though was Enna Solla Poigiray, picturized against the backdrop of the Pyramids and the Sphinx.
How could it not be? After all, it featured our Tabu. 😉 The only jarring note in the song was once again that abhorrent freak Ajith.
Nearly a decade after the movie debuted, Kandukondein Kandukondein still exercises a charm that few Tamil movies possess.
If you live in the U.S., you can rent Kandukondein Kandukondein from Netflix.
Should you live in Incredible India, theft is only a mouse-click away. 😉