Bullet-point Report: “Yagavarayinum Naa Kaakka”

Posted on June 29, 2015


  • I’m getting increasingly fascinated by our heroines these days. Take the Royal Enfield-riding Kayal (Nikki Galrani) in Yaagavarayinum Naa Kaakka. She knows the hero (Saga, played by Aadhi) is interested in her. She spots him waiting for her outside her college. She approaches him from behind and taps his shoulder. He turns, surprised to see her outside rather than in class. “Waiting for me, no?” she asks. He mumbles something. “Why waste time and energy?” she says, and seats herself behind him, on his bike. She asks him to stop at a TASMAC shop. She buys two bottles of beer. She asks him when he started drinking. “College,” he says. She says she started in school. She then directs him to a pharmacist’s, where she buys a ten-pack of “protection.” The rate she was going,  I kept waiting for her to specify a flavour. And then, she takes Aadhi to her terrace. There’s no one around. She asks him, “Are you a virgin?”
  • There’s a twist to this, of course – a rather cheeky one. And I kept thinking, “She’s just like the Karthik character in Mouna Raagam.” I thought that was just me, since a lot of my reference points come from the 1980s. But what do you know, Saga himself asks Kayal, “Un manasula Mouna Raagam Karthik-nu nenapaa?” Thereon, it’s just easier to spot the other Mani Ratnam hat-tips. The “Are you a virgin?” line on the terrace? Dil Se. The scene where Mumbai’s top gangster, a Tamilian, lifts the sheet covering a badly disfigured corpse and staggers back? Nayakan. Kayal barging into Saga’s home and making him splutter nervously? Agni Natchatiram.

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  • This is one of those movies where a very ordinary young man gets entangled with someone super-powerful and is drawn into violence – something like Sathya. Again, I thought that association was just mine, since a lot of my reference points come from the 1980s. But we have an action scene that ensues after a goon figuratively disrobes Kayal by snatching her dupatta. Change the dupatta to a dhavani, and you have an action scene from Sathya.
  • Kinda strengthens my theory that either (a) today’s filmmakers are so influenced by Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan that bits and pieces from their films keep creeping in, subconsciously, or (b) Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan have put their unique stamp on so many situations and tropes that we cannot help but be reminded of their work when we see these new films drawing on those same situations and tropes.
  • The director, Sathya Prabhas Pinishetty, likes twists. Apart from what Kayal plans to do with the beer and condoms, there’s a twist about the owner of a forearm with a distinctive tattoo. There’s a twist about a character you think is good, but then there’s a twist and you think the character is evil, and then there’s a twist and you realise the character is good, after all.

  •  The most idiotic twist is about a lecherous friend, who gets the plot rolling in the second half. (Till then, of course, we have endure a time- and patience-sapping romantic track, which is so totally irrelevant to the actual plot that I’d be complaining about it if we weren’t being subjected to this in every other movie.) If this pal is a lech, then you can’t just have this character trait pop up when you need it. You have lay the groundwork early on. Otherwise, it’s just a random plot-ignition device.
  • But then, that would mean we shrink disgustedly from this chap, and that cannot happen. After all, he’s a nanban, and this film is about natpu. There’s even a song that goes Thozha thozha. These are the kind of friends who don’t mind too much when one of them tears up their exam hall tickets, so they can hang out in college for some more time. If one of my friends did something like this, I’d unleash the first half of this movie on him.
  • All that said, this isn’t a terrible movie – merely a generic and often clueless one, of which you say things like “the second half picks up.” The problem isn’t that it’s preposterous (despite being based on a true story and all). The problem is that it isn’t taut enough to stop us from thinking it’s preposterous.
  • I am always amused when films of this sort feel the need to inform us that we’re “26 nautical miles from Keelakarai coast.” Not 25. Not 27. 26. Because that makes all the difference.
  • Aadhi is just not convincing. He’s all muscled up, which means it’s hard to take him as an “ordinary young man.” Plus, he doesn’t just do emotion. He does yemoshun – the quivering lips, the halting speech patterns. Someone should tell him we’re in 2015.
  • The antagonist is played by Mithun Chakraborty, who’s not bad. But this sort of casting is always distracting. About the only flaw in Aranya Kaandam was Jackie Shroff. Sure, he looked the part. But he didn’t feel like he belonged there. The small lip-sync issues. The slightly odd body language. You keep wondering what it might have been like had an actor familiar with the language, the milieu had played the part.
  • But at least, this is interesting casting. As opposed to Naren and Pragathi, who play the hero’s disappointed father and indulgent, excuse-making mother. Just a few weeks ago, they played these same parts in Inime Ippadithan.
  • The best thing about Yaagavarayinum Naa Kaakka is the cultural-education aspect of the title, which I had to look up. It’s part of a couplet from the Thirukkural, and it means you have to have control over your tongue. Clearly, this doesn’t apply to people reviewing movies like Yaagavarayinum Naa Kaakka.


  • flavour = see here
  • Un manasula Mouna Raagam Karthik-nu nenapaa?” = Do you think you’re Karthik in Mouna Raagam?
  • dupatta = see here
  • dhavani = see here
  • nanban, thozha = friend (in the bromantic sense)
  • natpu = friendship
  • Thirukkural = see here
  • Inime Ippadithan = see here

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