Teen ache trauma
Amara Kaaviyam , director Jeeva Shankar’s second film after Naan , is a teenage love story set in the 80s. Jeeva (Sathya), a boy with a father complex, and Karthika (Mia George), an archetypal schoolgirl, are the teenagers in love. Efforts to authenticate the film’s setting include a not-so-subtle placement of old film posters such as Sathya and Rocky , and the playing of old Tamil songs in a teashop that Jeeva visits. These feeble attempts don’t really convince you that you are watching life in the 80s.
The first half is sluggish, thanks to how uninspired the love scenes between the lead pair are. They try to outdo each other in saying ‘I love you’, and while it’s understandable that young love is full of such adorable banalities, their frivolous romance doesn’t ever translate to cuteness on screen, or make you feel nostalgic about puppy love. However, just as you are about to throw up your hands in resignation, the film takes a turn for the better.
It is in the turbulence of the second half that Sathya becomes apt for the role. You suddenly catch yourself thinking that he could have been quite at home playing a role like Dhanush’s in Kadhal Kondein . While the second half is lively, the film, despite promising to, doesn’t ever provide you with the memorable thrills that the Dhanush film did. The climax is also far too long and you can’t help but lose your suspension of disbelief.
The film, in a fairly engaging second half, manages to touch upon some interesting points. Can a person believed to be mentally ill ever convince those around him that he isn’t? Like a person who has just been dumped, the harder he tries, the worse the consequences become. The most moving moment of the film is when Jeeva tells the owner of a teashop that he doesn’t know how to react when people tiptoe around him; that he wishes they engaged with him normally. The matter-of-fact manner in which he says it adds to the pathos. In a movie promoted as an immortal love story, that its most moving moment comes when the hero doesn’t reference his love story puts things into perspective.
The doe-eyed Mia George is admirable in her part. Sathya, despite some unconvincing dialogue delivery, grows into the role. Special mention also to the understated performance of Aroul Djodi as Jeeva’s stepfather. Composer Ghibran’s lush music carries the film, but the grandness was perhaps a bit overdone in the climax. Jeeva Shankar, much like his master, the late director-cinematographer Jeeva, makes a visually appealing package whose content leaves you wanting more.
There is also a problem with Karthika’s response in the climax that makes you wonder if she’s suffering from a Stockholm Syndrome.
Even though it is quite difficult to talk about the implications of the scene without revealing details, let us just take the time out to rubbish the notion that true love means tolerating everything from one’s lover. It sends out a wrong message.
Amara Kaaviyam , though fleetingly good, isn’t the thriller that it should have been, and isn’t the romance it intended to be.