The cinema hall darkens, credit text in white flashes in the black screen, your ears pick up the sound of a lorry stopping, a man and woman asking whether the vehicle goes to Chennai and then they get in. All this detail you visualise in your mind with no video shown, thanks to brilliant background score by Music Director Shankar Rengarajan. This level of detail is seen in the cinematography by Cameraman Manikandan as well.
Once the credit roll ends you see a young woman getting ready for work, first we see her closing the left door of a wardrobe which has photos of her growing up with an elder lady plastered all around, then in the right door, we see photos of her with a young man. In just 2 visuals we are told by the Director that the woman has grown up with her single mother and she is in love with the young man, in the next frame we learn she is married. Thus in the first five minutes itself, you realise that you are watching an acclaimed film, such was the outstanding cinematography.
Rarely you see a film that’s so faithful to the subject and of the people it talks about. Kuttram Kadithal directed by Bramma G is one such rare gem. The story is about an 18-hour struggle a school teacher goes through after she impulsively slaps a young boy lightly. The boy is admitted to hospital and while he is fighting for his life, the whole world comes down on the newlywed teacher. What happens during that time is the story, the script never deviates from this pivot, there are no flashbacks, no love songs, no fights, not even character introductions – we are left to deduce about each character from their body language, costumes and dialogues. The attention to detail in the first one hour is amazing, a black plastic carry bag gets stuck inadvertently in her chappals as the teacher rushes out of the school to see her husband, she doesn’t notice it, but we see it for next 10 minutes, making us understand her state of mind and feel empathy towards her. We see a playful schoolboy who plays music with rubber bands affixed to his pencil box.
In an emotional story like this, it is quotidian for Kollywood writers to vilify one or more of the collaborators. It would have been easy to portray the school management or the community leader or the police as evil personified. The people we see in KK are all commoners, not any fictitious imagination, that has flowed from a pen nip. Writer Bramma’s restrain on this is clear where he shows the school principal too to be a father who has lost his daughter, the teacher’s mother is a loving Christian praying for physically challenged and government officials to do their job. In the hospital scene when we expect to see Vijaykanth’s Ramanaa like greedy Doctors, we only witness a medical “expert” at work.
The three main actors in the film, Radhika Prasidhha as Merlin teacher, Sai Rajkumar as Manikandan (Merlin’s Husband) and Pavel Navageethan as Udayan (Auto driver and Uncle of the boy Chezhiyan) are the perfect selection for the characters, they have simply lived the roles, to be any more real they will need to jump off the screen.