Kaatru Veliyidai movie review: Underwhelming love saga

Hindustan Times | ByKarthik Kumar, Chennai
Apr 07, 2017 01:59 PM IST

It is sad that despite Mani Ratnam’s brilliant grasp on his landscape and love sagas, Kaatru Veliyidai doesn’t make you root for the film.

Kaatru Veliyidai
Director: Mani Ratnam
Cast: Karthi, Aditi Rao Hydari, RJ Balaji, Rukmini Vijay Kumar, Shraddha Srinath
Rating: 2/5

Karthi and Aditi Rao Hydari on a poster of Kaatru Veliyidai.
Karthi and Aditi Rao Hydari on a poster of Kaatru Veliyidai.

Mani Ratnam‘s Kaatru Veliyidai has flashes of brilliance but unfortunately all that gets lost in a largely underwhelming film. It takes up an interesting idea about romance – between an Air Force pilot and a doctor - set against the backdrop of Kargil war. All that nostalgia from his earlier films is intact but Ratnam fails to stitch it all together to give us a film we can root for. There are some great scenes, some moments that prove why he’s a legend, but otherwise it is disappointing.

Karthi and Aditi Rao Hydari in a still from Kaatru Veliyidai.
Karthi and Aditi Rao Hydari in a still from Kaatru Veliyidai.

Aditi Rao Hydari owns the film. She’s terrific as Leela Abraham, and there are scenes where she supersedes Karthi effortlessly. But something is missing in their relationship and they don’t click the way most of Mani’s onscreen couples do.

Even Karthi, in his maiden full-fledged romantic role, struggles to emote. There is a scene where Karthi says he is afraid things might not work out between them (him and Hydari) and he wants to say goodnight before that thought starts worrying him. He struggles a lot to express it all.

Visually, Kaatru Veliyidai is beautiful, beyond anyone’s imagination. Each frame is like a painting and Ravi Varman as the cinematographer deserves more than just praise. It is amazing how Ratnam uses the beautiful backdrop of Kashmir and a few other places throughout the film to paint a troubled love story and to highlight the different facets of love.

In one particularly beautiful scene, Karthi and Aditi visit a snow-capped mountain in Leh. Karthi decides to use that moment to tell her something while she doesn’t want to know what he has in mind. As she enjoys the view, Karthi wants to leave, but she resists. He warns her about snowstorm. As they get into an argument, the climate worsens and Karthi says he will drag her from the place if needed. Ratnam beautifully uses the changing weather and the beautiful backdrop to showcase the depth of their relationship.

Rahman’s music, too, serves as the backbone of the film. The songs are perfectly placed and never break the flow of the narrative. For instance, when Karthi proposes to Aditi, the song ‘Azhagiye marry me’ plays in the background and there couldn’t have been a better situation in the film to utilize the song.

It is sad Kaatru Veliyidai doesn’t even move you emotionally.

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