Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal: An ode to Mani Ratnam's Thiruda Thiruda

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Last Updated: Thu, Mar 5th, 2020, 13:25:13hrs
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Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal’s title is clearly inspired from the cult namesake AR Rahman number, that featured in Mani Ratnam’s 90s spectacle Thiruda Thiruda. The title is apt, as this film’s story also revolves around two swindlers whose inventive con jobs leave the cops baffled and dancing to their tunes. 

Though the two films share some DNA, there are stark differentiators too. Some of these ensure conformity to the times we live in today. 

For starters, the characters of Sidharth (Dulquer Salmaan) and his sidekick Kallis (Rakshan) in this film are insanely tech-savvy. One of their staple cons involves an elaborate e-commerce hack, where they nick parts out of new laptops and replace them with old ones. Another involves using cool gadgets to hack open locked cars and lifting valuables from them. 

Kannum Kannum is also unapologetically urban, when you compare with Thiruda Thiruda. The story plays out first in Chennai, and then in Goa and the posh locales of South Delhi.

Sidharth and Kallis are flawless and incisive with their con work for the most part. But on one occasion, their luck runs out. One of the unintended victims of theirs turns out to be the police commissioner Prathap (the terrific Gautham Menon) and this draws the police force’s unwanted attention towards their operations. 

What ensues is an intelligently scripted cat and mouse chase. During this, we also meet Meera (Ritu Verma), who is Sidharth’s love interest and her friend Shreya (Niranjani Ahathiyan). 

Squeezed by the piling police pressure, Sidharth and friends plan on skipping town and starting life afresh. But this is probably not going to be as simple as hitting the F5 key on one of those laptops. Is there more to Meera than what meets the eye? There is a terrific twist right at the interval block. And then of course, there’s the mother of all twists right at the end of the film!

The director Desingh Periyasamy hasn’t had it easy on his debut. The film actually went on floors way back in 2017 and has been struggling with production delays. But what he has ultimately managed to deliver is one fine ode to Mani Ratnam’s famous cult hit. His biggest achievement here is adding an authentic, contemporary flavor to a time-tested genre. 

We know typically what to expect from modern day heist films. There is bound to be a narrative around tech, corruption, crossing, double-crossing and of course, the famous ‘moral vs amoral’ debate (is stealing okay if it’s from a drug smuggler)?

Desingh has concocted a splendid brew with all these tropes and has gone on to garnish it with some genuinely rib tickling humour (watch out for the hilarious ‘ring-tone’ scenes), a unique romantic angle and solid twists. While watching, I was even reminded of another debut film from the last decade that worked superbly on similar lines-Nalan Kumaraswamy’s Soodhu Kavvum.

What could have been a little better in Kannum Kannum is probably the music and the score. Interestingly, the songs are composed by the band Masala Coffee, but the background score is by a different technician, Harshavardhan. I’m not sure if this led to some disconnect. Or maybe, I’m still drooling over AR Rahman’s groundbreaking score from Thiruda Thiruda and carrying unfair expectations!

Gautham Menon (as Commissioner Prathap) was a revelation for me from this film. A classy director who redefined the cop role in Tamil cinema, he gets to play one himself this time. And he plays it with such a refreshing demeanor, that Raghavan and Anbuselvan IPS would have been proud! He is cool, calculative and with those eyes, always radiates an air of subtle mysteriousness, that is just perfect for the way the film is written to climax.

Hot on the heels of Oh My Kadavule, Kannum Kannum is another sumptuous Tamil film that is satisfying on most counts. You could even call it a spiritual sequel to Thiruda Thiruda and Mani Ratnam would probably be proud of the effort. This material could actually be perfect for a real sequel too, because if I read the characters created by Desingh correctly, they are not the types to lay low and simply start a new life ‘afresh’. Like a laptop on ‘Sleep’ mode, some impulses just need the push of a button to be revived. I for one, wouldn’t mind more of this adventure at all.

Shrikanth is a Chartered Accountant, who keenly follows and writes about cinema when he is not crunching numbers or balancing ledgers! You can find more of his work at Non Linear Plot

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