Amidst a lot of expectations, which is a norm for any Maniratnam film, Cheliyaa hits the screens and how!
Cheliyaa is a story of a fighter pilot who falls in love with a doctor. But before he sorts out everything with her, he gets a call of duty. An inevitable one. He knows he wouldn’t be able to get back to her if he goes on duty, but country comes first. He follows the orders and the tables turn for him. Will he be able to get back to his lover? What actually has happened between them that needs to be sorted out? All these questions are answered in an excellent fashion by the master Mani Ratnam.
Just like all his other films having based in situations of great drama/tension, Mani sir masterfully crafts this one too in a backdrop of a war. And again, in the way he has done previously, uses this element as a plot device to bring about change in the characters. Always following the underlying theme of ‘One will always know the value of something only when one loses it’, Cheliyaa too follows suite. But this time around, it’s completely from a different perspective.
Leela Abraham (Aditi) first meets VC (Karthi) in a hospital under an emergency situation. That marks the inception of their crazy love story. Car rides, plane rides, dances and what not. We get everything we yarn for in a love story. But what makes it special is the way in which Mani sir handeled this baby of his. The way in which he portrays romance is blissful to the soul. The way in which he chose his locations for the shoot are a treat to the eyes. The music he wants Rahman to score for him is like honey to the ears. The actors he cast to play the leads are extraordinary. When all these things go right, what more would you want from him?
Though the heart of this film is the love story, the romance and the chemistry that is created between the leads is very unique and heart touching. Both the leads hardly get physical. They just stare into each other’s eyes. They hardly try to utter a word. When they do, they always get stuck in mid sentence. All they do is stare and the eyes do the talking. Beautiful. In many instances, VC pushes her away from him, argues with her but she always comes back to him. No matter what. Here VC is not a perfect lovable fighter pilot over whom all girls go crazy. He is a lot imperfect. Arrogant and rude. But still, a girl quiet opposite to him gets attracted towards him. Just like a negative and a positive coming together. This unique chemistry between them is fascinating to watch. Sometimes it misfired and people laughed during these silent scenes. But most of the times, the feel came across perfectly.
The direction is great all through the film. He never gives away his characters and their attributes under any situation. They never act out of their skin and true to themselves. That’s another speciality and Mani sir excels in such writing. Screenplay is also masterful and artistic. The character development he builds up is different from normal. You don’t generally get what he’s conveying. But when you do and realise the beauty in it, you’ll lose yourself to his creation. Cheliyaa is definitely that kind of film.
Here Mani sir is only the brains for this project, but Ravi Varman plays the eye. His framing is exquisite. Lighting is impeccable. Perspective is out of the world. I’ll list out a few shots and when you watch these for yourself on the screen, you’ll drool over them for life. The opening shot of the heroine, the first instance when VC sees Leela, the couple sitting inside the snow drenched vehicle, VC helplessly walking on the sand dunes, the intro shot of Leh, Hamsaro sequence, the complete Maimarupaa song shot in reverse and the list goes on and on. You will get my point when you watch the film. Enthralling experience.
Editing was really good. Quiet perfect at times. But giving away to the 7:30 mins deleted scenes (reason not known), some transition shots seem off beat. Especially in the first half. Except for that, everything is good.
The master delivers it yet again. Looks like he went into his beast mode while rendering the background score. The way in which he re-uses the already present songs to suit the situations is great. We only heard the 5 songs from the album and fell in love. But there is this one particular Guitar beat which is next level scoring. Awesome.
The production values, art direction, costumes were all really good. Everything looked rich in the film. The locations were the shoot was done are breath taking to watch. Though some of the shots had VFX put in them, they still managed to not ruin the beauty of those places.
Talking about the cast. Karthi performed really well as VC. He carries the character really well. At some places, during long clos-up shots, his expressions misfired and people laughed at my screen. That was the only flaw with his performance. Aditi Rao Hydari was so good as Leela. The way she carries the emotions all through the film are beyond explanation. The chemistry they both maintain is lovable and hot (in a very very decent sense). Mani sir proves that long smooches, love making or to that matter too frequent hugs are not necessary to show love, just staring is enough. You know it that when some one is cast into a Mani Ratnam film, then they are ought to be really good in acting. Cheliyaa is not an exception.
Two years back when ‘Ok Bangaram’ was released, all the girls in town went gaga over Dulquer Salman. But I bet this time it’s the boys’ turn. You are in for an eye feast of Aditi Rao. And if you don’t fall for her in this film, then you either are already in love with someone else or not a man at all.
There is this dialogue that says “.. Nuvvu oka doctor, ne tathvam pranaalu kapaadatam. Nenu oka fighter pilot, na swabhaavam vidhwansam..” This dialogue is just enough to say how different they both are and yet have immense love towards each other. This is not a perfect love story, it has that Mani Ratnam trademark uniqueness to it. So, get into this trance of love and unique romance. Go, fall in love once again.