Kuttram 23, the perfect crime, almost

Eeram is one of my personal favourites. The tone of the visuals, the plot line and the creepy horror that it brought to the Tamil movie genre (Which was the last Tamil movie you saw were you were scared witless without the ghost ever making an actual appearance in the entire movie?) were all refreshing. The director also displayed a rare sensitivity in handling the societal pressures that a woman faces. But I felt he had faltered in the final act resorting to a cliched climax and sermonizing.

Kuttram 23, I feel has the same brilliance and suffers from the same flaws.

Arun Vijay, who has really come to his own since Ennai Arinthaal now plays the good guy in another medical crime story. The murder of a church father, a missing woman who came to confess to the father draw Vetri, the current generations’ super cop, who uses his brains as much as his brawns into an investigation. Even as he makes progress with some brilliant intellectual leaps (although many of those leaps seem far fetched contrivances that could have only happened because the plot wanted it), the case gets personal as his own family gets entangled. Will Vetri be able to stop the crime mania and also get his rightful retribution?

Kuttram 23 tells you this story in a narrative that is almost taut. Before looking at the film’s flaws, let’s look at what really works for it.

Director Arivazhagan and K M Bhaskaran his cinematographer have constructed a Chennai unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. The opening shot of the Villivakkam church and in fact any shot that has the church in it is visual poetry. The suspense in scenes that take the plot forward is built beautifully. The sequence where Vetri hurries to save his girlfriend who is under danger, which is a common trope in action films these days plays out beautifully with the reveal being totally unexpected. The red herring with the broken bluetooth receiver was very well thought out.

What brings the movie down are the romance sub-plot which is totally redundant and the lack of a really strong and serious villain. Ennai arinthaal worked because Arun Vijay gave a mind-blowing performance as a villain. The problem with Kuttram 23 is that there isn’t even a proper villain. There are no actual mind games played out with the villain which means the climax is a simple muscle versus muscle brawl, the same mistake that happened in Eeram. To make matters worse, a really serious message is inserted in the climax by means of unnatural sermonizing.

But that said, the movie raises some really important questions. We live in the 21st century and yet in our country a woman not giving birth to a child is considered a sin on her part. We still have mother in laws who badger women asking them for “good news” a month after the wedding. While the reason behind the crime might seem trivial for many of us, especially the men, the pressure that a woman undergoes when she is yet to bring forth a child is enormous. So you see, kuttram 23 is really not about the medical crime that happens, but about the many women that get killed either literally or slowly by the pressure on them to procreate.

Now if only Arivazhagan had focussed a bit more on that aspect, the final message that he wanted to convey and prepared a script that was as lean and fit as Arun Vijay’s body is.