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Kanavu Meippada Vaendum



"Kanavu Meippada Vaendum" ... a social evil showcased with skill.

THE POETIC title is very apt too. Sruthika Foundation's "Kanavu Meippada Vaendum" takes up a socially relevant issue and tackles it with sensitivity. Obtaining a `U' certificate for a film that has the evils of prostitution as its subject, speaks a lot about writer-director Janaki Viswanathan's prowess. It is a tightrope walk where even a slight deviation could change the tenor. But Janaki has trodden with care.

However, much is left to the viewer's imagination, and that seems both the positive and negative aspect of "Kanavu ... " Subtle gestures and movements tell you enough all right. But sometimes they result in the scenes ending with an abruptness that takes away the poignancy — staid and matter-of-fact it leaves very little room for expression of all the finer feelings. Nobody expects melodrama from Janaki but even the normal outbursts are rare. So much so that both the actor and the viewer stand outside the periphery of empathy — hence your reaction to the atrocities of the heartless pimp, the callous landlord and the apathetic politician, is limited.

Mangalapuram is notorious for its flesh trade. Through the years women have accepted it as a way of life about which they can do nothing. Soliciting customers and using the men in the family, including their own sons and brothers, for the purpose is a matter of course. And when a beautiful girl like Varalakshmi (Ramya Krishnan) runs away in search of greener pastures, she only lands up in Mumbai's red light area. Mohanasundaram (Asim Sharma), the son she leaves behind in the village, finds refuge in the city and grows up to become a doctor. He falls in love and marries his college mate Hema (Lakshmi Gopalswami). Life is smooth till he meets his mother at the government hospital after a gap of 20 years. And Mohan is forced to choose between his pregnant wife and old mother. Mother and son leave for Mangalapuram where Mohan brings about a selfless social revolution. Women are taught ways to live with dignity and self-respect and children attend the school run by Mohan. Another two decades pass before his daughter Nandita whom he's never set eyes on — now a journalist — comes to Mangalapuram to interview her dad for his having won the Magsaysay Award.

It is a noteworthy role for Ramya Krishnan. If you think she sports a deglamourised look — far from it. As the young mother she looks radiant. And as the grandma of the village children, she still looks beautiful. A lot of thought must have gone into the rather overly underplayed enactment — her body language, gait and expressions that change with the passing years prove it. Also care has been taken to portray the various periods of time that the film goes through. From the cinema songs of each era to the dress and the ambience, everything reveals Janaki's keen eye for detail. Asim Sharma is a performer with potential. And that's also because the voice that has dubbed for him (Chetan's?) has done a commendable job. Another theatre person who makes an impression is Karthik Srinivasan and if you find his jigs at his friend's engagement party awkward, you cannot deny that it's natural too. Arvind Babu, the young boy Mohan, who yearns for his mom, acquits himself well. The person who has dubbed for Thanu Vidyarthi (Mohan's daughter) almost frightens you with her voice and diction in the opening scenes that you get restless. Thankfully the scene shifts to the past and there's some respite.

Composer Mahesh's title number is melodious. So is "Aagayam Nee ... " that reminds you of the "Guddi" number, "Humko Man Ki ... " Ramya Krishnan emerges as a singer in "Kanavu ... " Mahesh probably made it simple and straightforward for Ramya to sail through the notes of the "Thazham Poovae" song without much difficulty. Re-recording (Isaac Thomas Kodukapalli) shows understanding of the mood of the sequences — the sound of silence in the heavy scenes and the gentle strains in the milder ones are aural-friendly. Colours look unnaturally bright in the joyous scenes, though the right tone is used in the serious ones. C.J. Rajkumar's top angle shots are appreciable but when the camera moves along with the characters and scenes, the jerks hurt the eye.

"Kutty," Janaki's first film, haunted you for long. Your heart went out to the little girl who innocently waved out from the moving train in the last scene. Somehow her second offering "Kanavu Meippada Vaendum" does not make a similar impact.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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