Cast: Bharathiraja, Aditi Balan, Yogi Babu, Gautham Vasudev Menon
Director: Thankar Bachan
Thankar Bachan director Karumegangal Karaigindrana is a beautiful tale about fathers and daughters. There is yearning, greed, hatred, love, and acceptance in this film. The music is brilliant too, but unfortunately the film’s first act is weak. The setting up of the central conflict is quite obtuse, and this includes the ego tussle between Komagan (Gautham Vasudev Menon) and Ramanathan (Bharathiraja). While the parallel narrative that meets at a later point is intriguing, it doesn’t work as much for this film as the crossroads for the characters in the film comes after an unnecessarily long wait.
Karumegangal Karaigindrana is a mood piece, one that could have easily been adapted from a lovely novel. There is an intensity to the heartbreak in the film that one can usually experience in the pages of a book. Even the depth of greed and hatred portrayed through Saaral’s biological father and Kanmani (Aditi Balan), encompasses a similar mood.
Speaking of fathers and daughters or sons for that matter, Tamil cinema has primarily cashed in on milking the audiences’ reaction by manipulating them. An otherwise toxic father is revealed as a hardworking man, which kicks a sense of guilt and shame in the children for the hatred. We saw it most recently in Don, and have seen it in many films including VIP, and Santhosh Subramaniam. All of these films tell viewers that mistakes committed by parents are by and large forgivable, when you calculate everything that they end up doing for their children.
Karumegangal Karaigindrana, however, begs to differ from such stereotypical portrayal of the father-daughter relationship. The film uses Ramanathan, his daughter Kanmani, and Veeramani and his daughter Paapa to portray two different parent-children dynamics. The former is of hatred and the latter is of love. The former is of a biological father unintentionally letting go of his right as a parent, while the latter is of an adoptive father who does everything possible to keep the rights that he acquired for his adoptive daughter. The film explains how blood doesn’t signify inherent love in relationships, and that chosen families are a lot more healthier and stronger. This is not to say that the film doesn’t have its fair share of flaws.
There are bad visual effects for a butterfly, the production value of the film is clearly low and the supporting cast members do not really make an impression. However, the idea is novel enough to propel the story forward. Despite the initial portions that are choppy, when the narrative picks up, it makes for an impressive tale.
Now, personally, I found it impressive that Kanmani is not forced to forgive the sins of her father. Sure, he had his reasons but that doesn’t negate the trauma he inflicted on Kanmani and her mother. He abandoned them both after having an extra marital affair. His life has taken a turn where he is no longer anyone’s priority, and this allows him the time to travel back in time, in search of a lover and an illegitimate child. He seeks forgiveness. He doesn’t, for the most part atleast, give excuses. He falls at his daughter’s feet, his pride no longer a part of the equation.
Despite all of this, she refuses to pay heed to him. Kanmani decides that she no longer needs a father. After all, her mother did more than enough to play the role of both her parents, and the anger is justified. So, when Ramanathan stands all alone in the end, it doesn’t feel unreasonable. That scene quantifies all of Kanmani and her mother’s struggles, and it pays attention to the mistakes that Ramanathan had committed in his life.
Rating: 2.5 (out of 5 stars)
Priyanka Sundar is a film journalist who covers films and series of different languages with a special focus on identity and gender politics.