Readers Write In #435: Twenty-five years of ‘Minsara Kanavu’

Posted on January 15, 2022

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By Sundar

Commemorating its golden jubilee year, AVM released Minsara Kananvu on Pongal, 1997. It was the directorial debut of Rajiv Menon, who was by then a famous cinematographer, thanks to Bombay. I had a ball watching Minsara Kanavu. We were some fifteen of us, exclusively school kids (grade details: withheld), watching one of the initial shows of the film in a friend’s theatre. The hall was packed; like totally charged up. Back then in the place where I grew up, the hall owners added to your cinema experience by doing all sorts of things, like – there used to be a series of multi-coloured lights (aka serial set) running throughout the perimeter of the silver screen. At high points of the film, in the judgment of the hall owner, these tiny fancy lights would be made to run around the entire screen in frenzied patterns literally electrifying the place – just so that we don’t miss out on something important on screen. 

One sequence that earned the attention of these serial bulbs was Prabhu Deva’s intro dance moves in Ooh la la…. Not that we would have missed him otherwise, as the specific portion was all over in the trailers and it was a trendsetter already. AR Rahman’s songs were magical. It was the twentieth century and AR Rahman was churning out hits with extraordinary consistency. He kept introducing to us new sounds, new voices, and new music. And in his inimitable style, the album had an assorted variety of songs. With Poo pookum oosai.. , an evergreen melody, Rahman-Vairamuthu combo lightened our hearts. Designed like Chinna china aasai.., the song made us cherish the simple and pure beauties of life. There was this totally new ‘voice’ of SPB in Thanga Thaamarai… – again a trademark Rahman creation, the song is absolutely captivating and it added one more National Award to the singer’s kitty. Strawberry kanne.. was something so different that one couldn’t really understand what it was, but it kept ringing in your ears. It was attractive. Hariharan scored amazingly well in the timeless Vennilave vennilave…, a mellifluous number with memorable interludes. But all these songs were not only about music, lyrics and choreography – they delivered a stronger and bigger experience. Rajiv Menon picturised them so well that the songs connected with you at a higher plane. His songs are of international standard in terms of the aesthetics, the story they say, and the emotions they evoke. I keep visiting some of them. Though a bucket of only three films makes it tough to arrive at wise judgments, it is safe to say when it comes to song visuals Rajiv Menon is somewhere near the top of the class. But putting a film together is totally a different task.

Minsara Kanavu is a triangular love story, with a rich girl (played by Kajol), harbouring an aspiration to become a nun, at the centre. One of the guys is suave but shy (Aravind Swamy), the other man is cool and street smart (Prabhu Deva). We all know how this is going to end. But in the name of a twist in the climax most of us were subjected to nothing short of cruelty. As the other two unite, Aravind Swamy – of all things on earth – becomes a priest. Come on! Just to put things in perspective, Aravind Swamy was like a zillion times bigger heartthrob than the next one in the line. And to turn him into a Father! It was not just a silly ending, but a casting disaster too. I just could not accept it. (Don’t even talk about Kadalnow.)

The film did not want itself to be taken seriously – it was all so youthful and colourful, glossy, bunch of friends hanging out, light-hearted humour, nice people, and so on. Superbly  reinforced by wonderful music and stellar choreography, the film was fairly entertaining and fun. Mission accomplished. Minsara Kanavu did very well. But, I neither had a chance nor the need to revisit the film even once in the past twenty five years. Precisely, this is what separates a good entertainer from a great film.