Readers Write In #404: Kaakha Kaakha – The lesser known struggles of a cop

Posted on September 3, 2021

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(by S. Madhumithaa)

You are probably wondering why anybody would randomly decide to write about this 2003 movie in 2021. By a quick math, you would realize it has not reached the recent trend of “20 years of ______” yet. Then, why now? 

It is because for me, the movie has stood the test of time enough number of times. I have now revisited the movie at different points in my life and it has continued to keep my mind blown every single time. While one can write about a lot of aspects in the movie, I am going to stick to the beautiful, ever charming, absolute treat to the eyes “Maya-Anbuchelvan – as realistic as it can get romance”. 

Obviously, I am going to begin with Maya. She is an educated, working woman who is happy with the independent life that she has led so far. If we get a little more into the specifics, she is an IIT graduate who is pursuing her passion for teaching by working at a school in her city. 

Reality checklist with the women in our lives – 

  • Literate
  • Working Professional
  • Has a passion to pursue
  • Independent

Not sure about Anbuchelvan, but I was already in love because such women continue to be a rarity on silver screen. I was completely head over heels when she gets annoyed with Anbuchelvan when she finds him everywhere she goes. She feels both offended and slightly threatened by this stranger. When he has the audacity to ask her for her personal details when they are at a small shop, at first she ignores him and orders for a coconut (“oru thengai kudunga”). She almost sounds like she would use the coconut as a weapon if he dares to ask her anything further. She dismisses him and walks away which is when Anbuchelvan finally catches up with my feelings for her!  

Moving to Anbuchelvan, he is a cop equally passionate about his chosen career path. Given the dangers that get naturally attached to his job, he finds his strength in the solitary life that he leads. Being an introvert by nature, he is fully convinced that he is happiest and safest when he is alone. His only friendships are with his colleagues and he is simply not ready to let anybody new enter his life. When he meets Maya, although he is a little attracted to her, his point of joy is the fact that she hates him. He finds the drive to socialize with her only because he is thrilled by her hostility towards him!

Finally when the initial misunderstandings between them clear up, we see the blossoming of a beautiful relationship. It is gradual and organic. As they get closer, we see Anbuchelvan sometimes getting awkward around her. He likes what they share but, struggles when he starts feeling vulnerable. He is worried that he may be becoming “weak”, but finds himself helpless.    

And eventually, we have Maya come forward and confess her feelings for him. It all happens beautifully without any of the cliché romantic bullshit that we have been exposed to. She takes him to a place that’s close to her heart and confesses that she has fallen for him. When he immediately refuses that he was not looking for such a relationship from her, we don’t see her weeping and crying about her broken heart. Instead, we see a woman whose ego is hurt and she cuts him off saying she was simply expressing her feelings and didn’t expect him to feel the same way about her. 

But by then, he has suffered equal “damage”. In my younger days, I could only watch Anbuchelvan as an outsider. But when I see him now, I kind of see why he struggles so much to face the truth of his feelings. It would basically mean throwing out of the window his lifelong conviction of being alone and secure. Let’s be honest. All things said and done, nobody tells you how vulnerable and scary it is to let someone into your life. It is equally or in fact more terrifying when you know your decision impacts the life of someone you love. Having to explain such fears can get so complicated that we sometimes find it convenient to simply leave things the way they are. To watch something so real on screen and to feel validated is an experience in itself.  

But, Maya wouldn’t let it go, would she? She comes back to him this time borderline pleading him to accept her love since she is not able to move on. My absolute favorite line is when she says she usually hates to plead others for anything but, this time she does not care anymore. While on the outside it looks like pleading, which is often perceived as weakness, I can only see a headstrong woman who is perseverant and simply does not want to give up on something that she believes is good for her. In reality, it is Anbuchelvan who lacks the courage to face the truth. In fact, Maya goes a step further and calls him out on his cowardice! What a woman to watch on screen!

After struggling long enough with his own self and clearly explaining to Maya that life with him may not exactly be a bed of roses, he finally gives in and confesses his feelings for her! And the movie moves on but, I stop here.

I agree it’s easier to direct a love story without having to deal with any of the emotional struggles that we witness in this movie. If you start thinking about it, most movies don’t bother to explain why the man likes the woman or vice-versa. Sadly in many movies, lust gets painted as love to the audience and in fact, glorified to dangerous levels. But, the cost is that such movies are hardly ever relatable and easily forgotten. It is the depiction of such complicated and yet, authentic emotions that have made Kaakha Kaakha stand the test of time for me. I really hope we get to see more of such gems sometime soon in the future.   

I would be more than happy if you could come up with suggestions for movies that have dealt with such valid emotional struggles. I don’t meant just romantic relationships, but any particular emotion that we experience but does not get depicted too often. For example, Director Vasanth’s “Payasam” in the recent Navarasa anthology was one such masterpiece for me. Do comment away!