Kamal is renowned for his sense and sensibilities. The mythological story of ‘Uttaman’ face off with Muttharasan (Nasser) looks like a straight pick out of Panchatantra. It regales and makes one forget the pain.
But the story belongs to Manoranjan, the ageing superstar, who knows that he will die in about three months time.
Talk about the emotional integrity of a man who decides to pull away the mask and unwrap the life of a popular superstar. And it is not sugar-coated at all – the man is there for everyone to see – warts and all. So you are a superstar, ageing but famous and rich. Your jet set lifestyle comes with a lot of pressure points and you manage to push along by leaning on a variety of vices ranging from wine to women. You have a megalomania that is unquestionable and is the fount of your genius. You have been there and done it all. A wreckage of broken relationships involving affairs, broken hearts, insecure relations and edgy confederates (Andrea and MS Bhaskar).
Kamal’s genius comes through when he makes the star face up to his mortality – three months is what you have. No less, no more. And the star wants to immortalize himself one last time on the silver screen. But what he does to make amends with broken relationships from the past is what is at the core of the movie. And it is missed by so many as it is the least glamorous part of the film and it takes courage to confront your failings.
Manoranjan in the phase reaches out to one and all. He effects rapprochement with his Gurunathar, his illicit daughter, his estranged son, his emotional wife and his current partner. It all happens rapidly and seems a bit contrived but what should one expect when the man has run out of time and is approaching his end at breakneck speed. At least the approaches are not clichéd and there seems to be genuine effort to reach out and make amends. The sensitivity of all these nuanced scenes is a treat to watch unravel. And he makes his final peace by completing the swan song movie and saying goodbye in such a creative manner – every story has to have an end. It just cannot be anything else.
Kamal and Margadarsi (KB) – It is a humble tribute to the genius who gave him the break and helped him to rise to stardom riding on meaningful cinema. Of course he got lured by the glamour of the tinsel town and moved away. This embittered KB to no end, though he could never bring himself to wish ill of his protegé. The swan song project is such an emotionally fulfilling idea. It resets time and brings us back to happy times again.
Kamal and Manonmani (Parvathi Menon) – So how’s it to learn that you have a grown up daughter from a past relationship and she hates you for having left her out of your life. The first meeting with undertoned texture and lack of hysterics is still real and sincere. Over time by sharing the past letters and clarifying the misunderstandings, Kamal effects a rapprochement of a lifetime.
Kamal and Manohar (Ashwin) – Not the best piece but it still acknowledges the angst that existed and how a heart-to-heart conversation could help solve it. It is more of a type though and the special tinge is only when Kamal asks the media to leave them alone as they are sharing a private moment.
Kamal and Urvasi (& Andrea) – Urvasi acknowledges that she had behaved like a spoilt brat and schemed to get married to Kamal. She ensured that ‘Kamal-Yamini’ were parted although they were deeply in love with each other. Kamal did not know about the betrayal till recently.
Urvasi still wants Kamal to say that he loves her. Kamal manages to pull a diplomatic coup when he sincerely acknowledges Urvasi role as his wife while letting a silent tear for Yamini who he had lost. And the irony is that is all happens as Andrea, his current partner, watches on. But even she realizes that Kamal has been genuine in expressing his emotions.
Kamal forgives Chokku (MS Bhaskar) and Poornachandra Rao (K Vishwanath) for ruining his relationship with Yamini. He is very gracious in letting go the emotional baggage in that moment. For a man who sang asking for ‘Saagavaram’ (eternal life) in Virumaandi to the man who cannot imagine a big sorrow than ‘Saagavaram’, things seem to have come a full circle as the youth is replaced with ageing and decrepitude.
I guess these aspects of the movie are the most underrated part of the movie – it should bring a wan smile to Kamal’s face since he knows that in fact this is the lifeline of his tale of the ‘Virtuous Villain’.