'Chekka Chivantha Vaanam' starts with a murder attempt and ends in a series of murders. In between, we have a typical Mani Ratnam drama unfurling in diverse terrains and through characters of unpredictable shades.
Like most of his earlier films, Mani Ratnam attempts a mega narrative this time as well with the gangster family headed by Senapathi (Prakash Raj) at its centre. Senapathi and his wife (Jayasudha) have three sons Varadan (Aravind Swami), Thyagu (Arun Vijay) and Ethi (Silambarasan). The film which tends to be a typical revenge drama in the initial stage, with the coming together of the three brothers after the failed bid on Senapathi's life by an unidentified gang, moves towards unexpected and intriguing sequences later on. A revelation by Senapathi towards the interval makes the plot more gripping and leaves the audience waiting for an eventful second half.
An adorable cop (Rasool Ebrahim) played by the affable Vijay Sethupathi makes the male cast an ensemble one. Rasool, the drunk and suspended cop, remains a crucial character throughout the film as tension keeps mounting as the plot progresses.
The plot is not without faults, at least for a non-Tamil viewer who can't risk missing the dialogues. The storyline, if you narrate it in words, isn't extraordinary. However, Mani Ratnam, with his masterly craftsmanship makes the film a visual experience.
Each actor does perform like in a Mani Ratnam movie grasping the nuances of the characters. The male star cast is complemented by equally strong female counterparts led by Jyothika, Aishwarya Rajesh and Aditi Rao Hydari. Thiagarajan's limited yet powerful appearance as a devout gangster Chinnappa Das proves his mettle as a matured actor yet again. Young Malayalam talent Appani Sarath comes as Chinnappa Das' son-in-law.
Santosh Sivan's camera captures all the action, emotion and romance in its true sense. The visuals are a treat to watch, especially the classy interiors of the Senapathi house and the ethnic texture of Parvathi's (Aditi) home.
A typical action drama, the beautifully titled 'Chekka Chivanta Vanam' spends a lot of bullets and petrol as gangsters fight it out on streets, godowns and at one point in a brothel. The action doesn't bore anyway. For those who expect the Mani Ratnam-Rahman musical magic, the tracks, however, leaves little to cherish.
The film has a predictable climax, and an anti-climax that compensates the disappointment!