Dilani Rabindran



Another Legendary Collaboration for Vetrimaaran & Dhanush, M. Manikandan, Kakkaa Muttai


Being in Toronto I rarely get to see a Tamil movie before your Kollywood natives – because of the solar system and time zones and all that jazz. And sometimes it’s really tough for me to stay off the internet and avoid spoilers! But for the last year, I have withheld – with great forte – my true and complete praise of director M. Manikandan’s debut feature Kaakka Muttai (insert round of applause (for me) here).

Don’t get me wrong – I am great at keeping secrets. In fact, it’s actually a key component of my career. But I also love to loudly voice my support for exceptional cinema – and Kaakka Muttai is exactly that. Not only have I kept mum about a film that I witnessed enchant Canadian audiences during its premiere at TIFF, it’s a film that then went on to delight many other cinephiles around the world before winning 2 National Awards! It’s been a great journey for the film – but a tough one for me, as I’ve spent a year dodging questions from readers (as well as close friends & family!) about why I love it so much. With its release now around the corner I suddenly realized that “with great power comes great responsibility”, and, in trying to be a champion for the advancement of remarkable Tamil cinema, I consider it my responsibility to fervently encourage you to see Kaakka Muttai in theatres ASAP...mainly because I have a year’s worth of discussion points pent up and I may burst at the seams soon if I can’t talk about it with all of you.

So, to peak your interest & encourage you all to flock to cinemas this weekend to enjoy the movie, wherever you are, I present to you my answers (WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS) to some of the most ‘Frequently Asked Kaakka Muttai Questions’ I’ve received:

(1) Is this a film meant only for children/families with young children?

Absolutely not. Kaakka Muttai is a film for all ages – not simply because everyone generally enjoys lighthearted humor and adorable child actors, but because this film is a brilliantly packaged social commentary on mature topics directly relevant to modern Indian society – such as globalization and class divides – that cleverly informs you while it totally entertains.

(2) Are Ramesh & Vignesh as cute throughout the movie as they seem in the trailer?

Yes! And what’s even better is that they have the acting chops to accompany their charm. These never before trained children come off as complete naturals before the camera and enact their roles as precocious siblings determined to overcome the limitations of poverty with pure ease.

(3) Are they even cuter in real life?

Yes. It seems impossible that they could be – but they are. I have their autographs, and they are not for sale.

(4) Is the movie really about pizza?

It is about pizza, and much more. It’s about determination, the harsh realities of urban poverty, corruption, sibling bonds, the innocence of children and hope – just to name a few themes. Manikandan has used a hilarious and heartwarming story of the pursuit of pizza to chronicle modern Chennai life from a few different vantage points – all of them fascinating. 

(5) Is this another legendary collaboration for Vetri Maaran & Dhanush?

The presumption that National Award winners Vetri Maaran and Dhanush do not come together for any small thing is completely true. Once audiences see Kaakka Muttai it will become clear that they have the ability as co-producers to spot filmmakers and stories that can enthrall both mainstream and independent film loving audiences as much as they have the ability to make themselves, as a director & actor combo.

(6) Do you predict a career of accolades for debutant M. Manikandan?

(Sorry for any added pressure, Mani, but...) Yes. In his first feature itself we see a distinct eye through his vibrant cinematography, and an imaginative writer who clearly has the ability to craft characters and stories that can entice audiences from different walks of life (even those who cannot even imagine having to struggle for a mere taste of pizza). Even before its release Kaakka Muttai has solidified its place in Indian cinema, as evidenced by its many accolades, and rightfully so. Manikandan seems to have a talent for human observation and making momentous tales out of things/occurrences that are probably overlooked by us all, daily, which is a rare gift.

(7) What did you like best about the movie?

Without divulging much of the story and for the sake of building suspense I’ll say that my favorite aspect of this film is that, unlike many stories set in urban slums or focused on poor children, the characters face adversity with resolve and ingenuity rather than desolation; whether or not they maintain the innocence when the going gets really tough is something you’ll have to watch the film to find out.

(8) And finally – will I leave the theatre craving pizza?

It’s possible. You may, or you may not. I can’t say for sure. All I’ll tell you is that, every single time I saw it, I left the theatre craving more Tamil films as good as this one.

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