KUTTRAME THANDANAI – NOOSE AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
by Ravi Kiran
After the resounding success of Kaaka Muttai, Manikandan returns with Kutrame Thandanai (Crime is Punishment). His second film is not exactly a murder mystery but more of an intense drama revolving around a crime.
The film opens with scenes set in a dilapidated tenement complex. We see through Ravi’s (Vidharth) point of view. Ravi works as a collection agent and has a handicap though, he suffers from tunnel vision. Hence, the view is circular and narrow, for he can see what directly lies ahead of him. In a later scene thoughtfully fit in, a blind lady requests him for help to cross the road. Manikandan focuses on the grip Ravi has on the blind lady. Ravi is not the kind of a person who complaints and you understand why he has a desire to hold on to what little he has.
The tunnel vision is metaphorical as well. When the Doctor asks him as to why he had not gone for an eye check-up before, he says that he never felt the need to as he perceived that this is how others saw the world as well. When he becomes the sole witness to a murder in the tenement complex, you realise how he is more of a modern practical man who is self-centred in his approach towards life and attributes it to the world we live in. He shares snippets of his life with a customer (Nasser) who is a glass-maker and acts somewhat of a conscience keeper. Ravi holds on to that aphorism which the customer throws in ‘Edhu thevaiyo, adhu thaan dharmam’ (Any action taken to fulfill one’s own needs is a justified action).
There are limits to the vision, not just what we get to see on the outside but from the inner rumblings as well. He sees Pooja Devariya, his colleague, having a quarrel with her brother on the street. He learns from her just the little details about the quarrel. Nothing more is shown. Ravi isn’t interested and we aren’t interested either. On the other hand, whenever he extorts money from the two suspects, he asks for just what is required for his eye treatment.
But then, he learns from his consulting Doctor later about the actual state of his vision. He also learns about his ‘twisted’ morals through a heated exchange with his customer (Nasser). When the distance between them becomes clear, you realise the state of his moral vision – Ravi is not discriminating between good and bad or right and wrong, he just takes in what matters for his survival.
The cast is terrific. Be it Vidharth, Pooja Devariya, Nasser or Marimuthu (yet again a Cop but at least on the good side, for a change!). Aishwarya Rajesh plays the victim and is a refreshing presence on screen. Like Ravi, she is unapologetic about her choices. Rahman as the boss of Aishwarya is trapped by his fears. He isn’t morally right either. He is intimately close to her despite being a married man. The weight of their ‘crimes’ hold them down. Guru Somasundaram as the lawyer’s assistant is naturally an opportunist and he nails the associated characteristic trait of self-satisfaction.
Despite its smartness, Kuttrame Thandanai doesn’t hold you like Kaaka Muttai. It is not a fair comparison because of the different stories but this is purely on the grounds of being emotionally invested in the film. Ilaiyaraaja’s score is at times odd as the score doesn’t complement the mood of the scene. One thing is for sure though – Manikandan is here to stay!