Chekka Chivantha Vaanam Review: Vijay Sethupathi’s Acting & AR Rahman’s Music Steal The Show!

Our review on Mani Ratnam’s latest flick!

Mani Ratnam’s latest offering, the gangster thriller titled – Chekka Chivantha Vaanam – that literally translates to ‘Blood Red Sky’, is everything that the trailer shows and everything that the trailer skillfully hides. If the trailers give us viewers a glimpse into this sleek gangster thriller, then the film is everything that you certainly didn’t see coming.

Whistle-worthy dialogues, stylish scene entries, and music that resonates with each scene, emotion, and thought process – ‘CCV’ is Mani Ratnam’s comeback to filmmaking that would not just appeal to the masses but would render massive commercial approval, too, with its star cast, seasoned technicians, and a story that dates back to yore but is still presented fresh with plot devices you never see coming.

Senapathi (Prakash Raj) is the patriarch of a family that has crime seeped into them but function like just any other family. He stays in this palatial beach villa with his wife, played by Jayasudha, and eldest son Varada (Arvind Swami), daughter-in-law Chithra (Jyothika), and three grandkids. His two other sons are Thyagu (Arun Vijay), a businessman settled in Dubai who hobnobs with Sheikhs, and Ethi (STR) who’s settled in Serbia. Needless to say, crime flows in their blood with deaths and shootings just a normal part of their daily life. Rasool (Vijay Sethupathi) is a cop who is Varada’s childhood friend and quite familiar with Senapathi’s clan.

The film takes shape when an assassination attempt against Senapathi and his wife takes place, bringing the brothers together. However, each of them are more than what meets the eye, and soon enough, the three brothers go against each other, all vying for Senapathi’s position. The story oscillates between the perspectives of each of the brothers, their life, and how their hunger for revenge and greed brings their own downfall.

The strengths of the film lie in its cast – a well-thought-out list of actors who are capable of delivering praiseworthy performances, right from the ones that are seething with anger to the ones where they are at their vulnerable best. However, if there’s someone who deserves all the applause, it’s Vijay Sethupathi. Not one bit does he appear out of form or wasted, delivering his standard wry sense of dialogue delivery that elicits all the applause from the audience. While the role isn’t something new to him, the way he takes control of his Rasool is something that’s rare in  Tamil cinema these days.

If the film’s heart is the story, then AR Rahman’s music is the soul that carries forward each emotion, each flaw, each scene with such elan, you’re almost left with goosebumps in certain places. Keeping in tandem with the story, Mani Ratnam’s film is already a winner in the music department and Rahman deserves all the credit for it.

There are still a few places that the film skims through, something that could’ve been worked on. The actresses, who appear briefly, get a subpar screen time, reduced to contributing little to the story. Nevertheless, each of them try to do their best with whatever screen time they’re given, but there’s still a nagging feeling where one wishes it could’ve been more than what was portrayed.

But you’re left with a bad taste in your mouth after watching the film; Rahman’s music lingers in your head, Vijay Sethupathi’s punch dialogues come back to you, and you can’t help but admire the expanse of land that the film focuses on whether it’s the lush, green meadows of Serbia, the windowed sky-scrapers in Dubai or the arid lands of Tamil Nadu.

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