Suseenthiran has always been an interesting film-maker. The conviction with which he has managed to walk the tight-rope between grounding his films in harsh reality and making them fit into the commercial space is something you wish many more film-makers would take cue from. And more importantly, his writing has been solid. Yes, inconsistently so. But, it has. Also, he is someone who can take a template and without any flamboyant experimentation, make it engaging just with his tiny signature touches, as evidenced in Pandiyanadu. And that’s exactly why his last outing Paayum Puli came across as a nasty surprise, begging the question “Why would Susee squander so much time in something that contributes nothing to the narrative, relying more on an uninspired romance, knowing very well that it would affect the end-product?”
And, making me approach his latest film Maaveran Kittu with quite some skepticism. As the film began with a meticulously-narrated prelude on the gravity of caste politics plaguing a remote Southern village in the late 80s of Tamil Nadu, I started sensing a little promise. But along came the question, “Why tell when you could show?” Well, to be frank, it haunted me till the end, as everyone on-screen keep resorting to endless dialogues (read activism) to move the story forward. That apart, Susee here manages to get a stronger hold on his narrative than his earlier film, wasting no time in getting things started. The central characters are introduced, and brought into the scheme of things in a manner that gets us totally hooked. Parthiepan, in particular, playing the mentor-activist, gets us totally invested in a character, which could have easily been another generic caricature.
For that matter, any of the other characters could have. But for the actors playing them. After a while, even the supporting ones turn out to be painfully uni-dimensional. We are never given convincing story-arcs. Blacks stay blacks. Whites become whiter. Greys are nowhere to be seen. But despite these, Suseenthiran keeps us watching with decent sub-plots and a nice little surprise here and there. An early song sowing the seeds of a fatal romance, and the shocker of a scene where it gets resolved in the most unexpected of ways bear the ‘Susee’ mark. But very soon, things slowly start fizzling out. An idea seems terrific on paper, but the way it pans out on the screen falls flat. Opportunities for infusing drama in the later half are either killed or conveniently ignored. The romance, which was kept in check for the major part, starts to wreak havoc when ideally things should have been tightened. By the end, despite getting to see Suseendiran in patchy sparks, considering what the film-maker is capable of, it does feel like an opportunity lost.