Chekka Chivantha Vaanam ~ The Stars Shine but the Galaxy Doesn’t Sparkle

Chekka Chivantha Vaanam (CCV) (English : Crimson Red Sky, released as Nawab in Hindi) – the Mani Ratnam directed multi starrer with Arvind Swami, Vijay Sethupathi, STR, Arun Vijay, Jyothika, Aditi Rao Hydari and others has been the talk of the town with so many people breaking their heads to predict ‘the story’. Some said, it could be like “The Godfather” with brothers trying to take their father’s throne while others said it could be the famed Tamil Novel, ‘Ponniyin Selvan’. Film critics has often mentioned that Mani Ratnam has been repeating his old films off late with OK Kanmani (OKK) being a modernised version of Alaipayuthey (I felt the same too, you can read my review of OKK here), with Kaatru Veliyidai showing shades of Roja so CCV should be like Nayagan. Some had even analysed the posters of Nayagan and CCV to strike a comparison between the two!

With so much hype around, Mani Ratnam has surprised the audience with Chekka Chivantha Vaanam showcasing the tussle amongst brothers who fight for their father’s throne, yes what was expected but the surprise is blood. Never have I seen so much violence in a Mani Ratnam movie before, so first of all hats off to Mani Ratnam for reinventing himself as a director to deliver a action-packed flick like this one.

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I don’t want to reveal a lot about the story, because the trailer did that job, maybe a bit too much 😉 So, lets quickly jump to the analysis of the movie.

Detailing: Mani is truly a genius when it comes to character sketching. The casting, though had many stars is adequate for each characters and everyone have played their part well. The names of characters though – VaradaRAJAn (Arvind Swami), ThiagaRAJAn (Arun Vijay) and EthiRAJAn (STR) to say all three of them are trying to take the place of Senapathi (Prakash Raj) which means commander of the army. Rasool (Vijay Sethupathi) which means “messenger” plays a cop and a bridging role in the movie. Even Aditi Rao, who plays the Arvind Swami’s mistress is named Parvathy to indicate she is like a second wife.

Stars: For any multi-starrer, this question always comes, “On which actor should I focus on?”. In this movie, everyone is interspersed in their roles and have essayed their portions to perfection. Especially, I felt like STR and Vijay Sethupathi have played their “own self” as characters in the movie with their on-screen mannerisms were so in line with their realities. Arvind Swami as the short-tempered rugged Varadan at times made me think about Madhavan in Aayutha Ezuthu. Credit to Mani Ratnam for casting the right people for the right role. Having said that, the woman in the movie (Jyothika, Aditi, Aishwarya Rajesh etc.,.) don’t have enough scope for their characters which is unlike a usual Mani Ratnam film. Right from Divya in Mouna Ragam till Tara in OK Kanmani, the woman in Mani Ratnam movies form the backbone but in this flick they don’t even have enough screen time.

Camera: Santhosh Sivan handled the cinematography and he has shown why he is the best in the business through this movie. The use of light to portray characters’ real face is evident throughout the movie, watch Arvind Swami’s face closely through the movie. Drone shots – something that is different from the usual, utilised at many instances through the movie. The shots in Serbia, Dubai and Kadappa all had a similar usage of Drone cameras which I found repetitive. This brings me to shooting in foreign land, where Mani Ratnam has reinvented himself. Until Kaatru Veliyidai flight sequence, all movies of Mani Ratnam were shot inside India but in CCV you roam around Serbia, Dubai and Chennai seamlessly in first half.

Music: AR Rahman has always been a strength for Mani Ratnam with his songs uplifting the entire movie on many instances. But, expect Mazhai Kuruvi song, every other song isn’t good to the ears and doesn’t have that Rahman magic in it. On the other hand, when it comes to background music, ARR has done an amazing work in CCV where at many instances I was able to find a western influence. The chasing and discussion scenes had a more piano – cellar kind of a mix that at times took me to ‘Game of Thrones’. Given the number of people dying in the movie, I did think about ‘Valar Morghulis’ ~ All Men must die~

Editing: A big hats off to Sreekar Prasad for the slick and racy editing. The songs are trimmed and also most of the scenes to hold the momentum of the movie till the end. Though, the movie is more than 2.5 hours long with no comedy, no full-length song it still doesn’t bore you.  You really want to see what happens in the climax where there is a nice surprise for all the viewers. Valar Morghulis!

Screenplay: When the story isn’t something spectacular, screenplay becomes increasingly important. Mani Ratnam is known for his character arcs but the problem with this movie is that there are way too many arcs. Some develop but you never know “Why?”. Things like, Why Aditi Rao was casted a “kept woman” who works as a journalist? Why Aishwarya Rajesh is a Srilankan girl from London? Why does Senapathi’s mom meet Ethiraj to talk and then decides to stay with him? I guess questions like these are so many that a sequel or prequel is needed to understand many parts of the movie.  This is where CCV loses the viewer, the sons fight for the throne but there isn’t enough depth for all characters to get that satisfaction from this movie. Another thing is predictability, as I mentioned earlier, the trailer is too revealing almost showing you all the best scenes beforehand. I was expecting, some surprise element throughout but it never came which was a huge disappointment. That is why, I conclude that the stars shine in CCV but the galaxy doesn’t sparkle.

Overall, my take on this movie is a 2.75/5. You shouldn’t miss it given that it has too many actors but in the end, you might not feel content of watching the movie because it’s lacks cogency.


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