Story, Screenplay, Dialogues, Direction – the supposedly essential elements of film-making. Well, Chaplin and Kamal have already shown us the art of doing a mute film. It’s impossible to make a movie without screenplay and direction. So, why don’t we do a film with no story at all, asks Parthiepan Radhakrishnan, arguably one of the first nonconformists of Tamil cinema.
This is the kind of film, which amusingly takes a dig at each and every rule of screenwriting ever written on paper. The movie doesn’t have a structured plot structure, any kind of act breakages, or the much emphasised scene flow. In fact it doesn’t even worry about taking the action forward. Then? Curious? Well, I don’t want to spoil even a bit of your viewing pleasure. So suffice to say that the narrative moves from one character to another whenever it feels the urge, and refuses to organize itself around any theme except a good-natured insistence that people are always fascinating to watch, even when they don’t appear to be doing much of anything. Burlesque at times, mostly hilarious, quirky, intelligent and original, this is not the sort of thing you ordinarily find at your neighborhood theaters alongside the latest ‘family action entertainers’. But thanks to Parthiepan, here it is!
Parthiepan notches up his innovation levels yet again as he relies on an engaging screenplay throughout to sustain the audience’s attention. The first half in particular breezes through with never a dull moment, and lots of irreverent humour. Parthiban here gives us a refreshing take on how cinema and the audience have undergone a huge paradigm shift, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, but never loses an opportunity to stress on the risks involved in taking the audience’s intelligence for granted. He breaks the fourth wall tastefully in a handful of instances, and impresses with his trademark wit and sarcasm. The pre-interval segment in particular is nicely done, breaking the age old myth of a six act structure for Indian movies.
Parthiepan’s characterisations hit the bull’s eye. ‘Farhan Akhtar’ doppelganger Santhosh Prathap and the sensuously eccentric Akhila Kishore are perfect as the newly married couple, while Mahalakshmi as the mysterious Deepa and Sahithya Jagannathan as the chirpy assistant director play their roles convincingly. Vijay Ram as Murali is spontaneously funny and might turn out to be an interesting find. But the film truly belongs to Thambi Ramaiah, who has a field day in KTVI with his impeccable timing sense and hilarious one-liners. What a performance! Among the innumerable cameos, Vishal, Prakashraj and Amala impress. The Prakashraj sequence in particular is a riot.
Razor sharp witty ‘Parthiepan’ style dialogues are the high points of KTVI. Cheeky and even conspicuously sardonic at times, they keep hitting you without a break and leave you in splits and awe over the audacity with which they have been approached. The references to ‘Aval Appadithan’ and ‘Vellikizhamai Viradham’ are brilliant, yet thought-provoking. The characteristic aesthetic wordplays of Parthiepan (like the ‘Ulundha Vadai and Irumaapu’ gags) serve the double purpose of bringing in laughs and dishing out some intelligent sarcasm. He even sends one to the stands with current local flavour, when a lunch woman questions the quality of some of the mainstream ‘commercial’ movies of today by asking if the makers ever bothered to see it in the first place. Wounded and battered by some recent ‘brain’busters, we laugh hysterically at the story narrated by the ‘pragmatic’ producer.
The meta references work exceptionally well and the climax is brilliant, syncing with the overall mood of the film. The second half does lose steam at places, and some of the serious sequences seem unwarranted. But then, they don’t affect the overall product much. Filled with intelligent jest and quirky ironic undertones, Kathai Thiraikathai Vasanam Iyakkam takes us through an unpredictable joyride and enthralls us with Parthiepan’s trademark sly humour. It even inspires a whole generation of new age filmmakers, with its bold mockery of anything ‘mundane’!
This interesting experiment by Parthiepan deserves a watch, just for its innovation and freshness if not anything else. But in addition, it turns out be engaging and brilliant. If you are a fan of quality cinema, go for it! Your sins accumulated by watching the ‘mass blockbusters’ will be atoned :).