'Kaatru Veliyidai': Movie Review

By Rohith Raju

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Thoughts on Ratnam’s magical Kaatru Veliyidai - a tale of two lovers, VC, a self centered, arrogant fighter pilot, and Leela, a self respectful, feminist doctor, who are not aware of the hurdles they are gonna encounter; with the mindset they persist with, it's inevitable.

Firstly many would always wonder why Ratnam takes long time to conceive a movie. After watching his films, they reckon why this much time is being spent on this film. Its obvious. But it certainly needs that much time to create ‘magic’ and Kaatru Veliyidai/Cheliya is such magic.

The film begins with the war, set in Kargil War period, where VC (Karthi), a ferocious fighter pilot, is seen riding a fighter plane gravely. With in few seconds, he lands on the ground with the help of parachute after his plane crashes. Then the Pakistan army captures him. VC spends several days there looking desperately for something. His face shows he has lost hope with life as he knows that Pakistan won't send him back to India. So he tries to recapture his memories to stay alive. And in the process he narrates us the story that occurred in Srinagar where he met with an accident and was admitted in a hospital. The same day Leela (Aditi), a newly appointed doctor, happened to take charge though she’s on leave. She treats him and while doing so VC glances at her with a half-opened, slow-going eye. This shot is conceived in a way which hints he has developed fondness for her. I think he might have liked her caring nature. She looked after him for about 2-3 days. He, then, recovered and tried to get up though he hasn't completed his observation period.

He put his ‘goggles’ as soon as he leaned leisurely towards the bed and started chanting a poem weirdly. And this shot is a testament to the cinematic brilliance of Ratnam as it emphasizes VC has finesse, light-hearted. Can say a typical ‘bluffer’, otherwise.

Their second encounter, where they are seen obsessed towards each other, is elegantly constructed by Ratnam. VC tried flirting with her in a western duet dance, inducing here to come for a plane drive. There they shared a bond of love, they looked at each other keenly and had a few moments of love. Later VC left for Leh camp. So we can see a sense of yearning for VC in her eyes. She’s dying to visit him. So she rushed to Leh, in desperate, and astonished VC. VC decided to take her to a special place, and she seemed pretty occupied with the absolute beauty of the Leh. Well, it's a profound delight to eyes! But when VC anticipated some trouble he asked her to evacuate with him. She refused as she’s intrigued by the eye-catching landscapes. He, then, requests, but she didn't seem to reciprocate. So he lost temper and became little arrogant which annoyed her. VC is an intolerant guy who gets exasperated very often. She’s a kind of highly spirited, self respected and feminist. All she wanted VC is to love, respect and beguile her. But, to contrary, she perceived VC was trying to establish dominance over her. Consequently she finds herself squashed between the love for VC and her rigid self-regard.  

VC’s self centered, arrogant mindset and Leela’s self respected, feminist temperament forges lot of hurdles in their journey which they are not aware of. But due to VC’s persuading ability, along with pleading nature, the tensions didn't to last for too long.

Subsequently, there’s another instance of such distressing act by VC where he shouted loudly at Leela when she’s trying to express her views regarding attacks of Pakistan, with other army officers. This instance humiliated Leela. VC thinks women shouldn’t interfere in these discussions which hurt her feminist attitude. So she got out of the place. A relationship cannot continue further like this for much time. VC had to change. But he didn't. His self centered nature and arrogance became a barrier between his love and attitude. Later Leela expressed her concerns after becoming pregnant with VC. Here VC tried to assume the pros and cons of the circumstance which disheartened Leela. He concluded to abort. Messed upon VC’s attitude, she decided to take her own decision over the matter. Honestly, at least in this instance, he must not have been self seeking.

Later VC leaves for Kargil War and gets caught there. The entire film is scripted in a hyperlink format which merely depicts two stories; one, where VC recaptures his memories and tries to escape from the prison along with two other guys; two, his memories, his love story.

In the end, VC is seen with full of contentment being escaped from Pakistan. In the meantime, he has developed ample emotions for Leela. His face tells he’s very enthusiastic to see her. So he starts search for Leela and it continues for about three years. He, finally, finds her in a medical camp. It's certainly one of the best  scenes of Ratnam’s which made me awe-struck with the kind of performance delivered by Karthi and the way Ratnam portrayed the climax. To his surprise, Leela introduces him to their daughter. VC stares at his daughter and bursts out giving utmost life to his character. We can see a sense of change in attitude of VC in this particular scene. It's apparent that he let go all ego and arrogance and has became a person who can care about others too. He might have felt the turmoil she faced to raise that child without a father. He would have realized her unconditional love towards him. Finally he hugs her with high esteem.  

On a whole, what works in this classic along with Ratnam’s making is Rahman’s soul-stirring music and Ravi Varman’s delightful visuals. Both the crafts together brings offbeat appeal to the viewers. Well, for instance, just try to visualize the Vaan Varuvaan/Mairupa song on your mind. The song starts with VC whirling Leela, asking passionately to repeat ‘I love you’ that she had uttered earlier. And the shot ends with both lying together on floor and VC slithers over her neck to kiss. Soon the backdrop goes to an abandoned place full of ice, where they both are seen singing a duet . She’s trying to convey something to VC. Probably she’s expressing her solitude, love and carols, and urges him to acknowledge it. From here the song is portrayed during sunset and sunrise to bring as much as sunlight to gleam on the face of Leela which complements her positivity. The song’s been a healer to me. Listened it with rapture for many hours and got absorbed to its aesthetic appeal. Kudos to the Brinda master’s dexterity and Sitaramasastri’s captivating lyrics which made the song ‘flawless’ and even more intriguing.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

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  1. Loved the movie... though i really don't understand why it didn't work that well with critics and at the box office too perhaps...
    The subtle emotions like love against self respect, and the humiliation, hurt that Leela experienced .. and VC's change from egoistic self centered person to a considerate individual over the years,... it is very endearing tale...


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