Chekka Chivantha Vaanam is indeed painted red all through, what with ruthless bullet shots and gruesome murders. As Varadan (Arvind Swami) says in the movie, we are all nothing but a big cipher when death strikes. The internal family war, which we find out in the end is brilliantly planned by Rasool, is fought in this movie till everyone in the gangster family is turned to nothing but a big cipher.
It is one of those rare gangster movies where the police emerges victorious wiping out the entire gangster clan. The police cleverly capitalising on the craving for power felt by the three brothers, which, by the way, comes out strong in each scene, tricks and manipulates each brother and his team.
The movie in itself is fast-paced and engaging. All the characters, even if coming for only a few seconds like Gautham, Rasool’s boss, leave a mark. But I have never really been a fan of Simbu and even in this movie, even when he is the last one remaining and has that final conversation with Rasool, I didn’t find any great impact.
The opening scene of the new additions to Madras, which have become a part of its new identities, apart from the erstwhile Gemini Flyover and Napier Bridge, which have so far been the cliched identity of Madras in movies, is refreshing.
Vijay Sethupathi, with his dialogues which had the audience giving appreciative laughter all through, does stand out. He does emerge as the true hero in the end.
Arvind Swami, always THE nice guy in Mani Ratnam’s movie, now as a villain, looks convincing.
Jyotika dominates each scene she is in and it was a good change to see that no longer was a don’s wife a character with no importance whatsoever. There she is, interrogating her husband and his brothers on their actions, plans and all that. I, in fact, thought that she herself might do some plotting, but she didn’t. I would have liked to see her character turning out even more powerful.
The other two heroines aren’t as powerful as Chitra (Jyotika). The scene where Thyagu’s (Arun Vijay) house is attacked and his wife calls the police left me wondering why a gangster’s wife will call the police instead of her husband. The way Ethi’s (Simbu) wife is killed even as she opens the window was reminiscent of the way Velu Nayakar’s wife dies in Nayagan.
What is a Mani Ratnam’s movie without songs?! For the first time,he has done just that! The songs just blend into the scenes and acts just like a background score. One background music which I really liked was that of scenes featuring Arvind Swami and Aditi.
Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, true to its name, has some beautiful shots of the sky during sunrise/sunset.
Senapathi’s house with the sea for a backdrop looks majestic, as majestic as the man himself. Despite the modern glass structure, the interiors are beautifully done.
The interior decoration of the bedroom, the costumes of Prakash Raj and Jayasudha, the soft lighting and the expressions on their faces when they both have the conversation on the attack on them and who might have done it is once important scene that is not just aesthetically appealing but also proceeds to show the characters in new light.
Senapathi’s grandson’s naming ceremony completes the Mani Ratnam’s movie experience which always has some family function as a part of it. Be it the colours, the way each hero turns their attention to the meeting of Senapathi with his opponent or the grand family group photo in the end, it has Mani Ratnam written all over.
Jyotika’s costumes are very beautiful, be it the bold colours and designs of the sarees or the contrasting blouses to go with it.
Chekka Chivantha Vaanam is that Mani Ratnam movie where the thirst for power overpowers the relationships and there is violence written all over.