Cast: Vignesh, Ramesh, Ishwarya Rajesh, Thilak
In Kaakka Muttai, director Manikandan grabs a small portion of our planet’s constituency, tops it up with all kinds of curious elements, and presents it to us, the viewers, to enjoy and cherish. This ‘small portion’ in turn comprises of two boys from some of the more downtrodden districts of Chennai, and who dub themselves as Periya Kaakka Muttai and Chinna Kaakka Muttai.
Big Crow Egg (Vignesh) and Small Crow Egg (Ramesh) (translation of their names) are born with a burden: they are ridiculously poor and have nowhere to turn to besides themselves and their mother (Ishwarya Rajesh) and grandmom. Being kids, they have a heart of gold and a mind of innocence. School is unaffordable, and they’re too young to be thinking of work and contribution in a serious sense. Yet, they still haul a bunch of coal from near the railways everyday to earn 10 bucks. But what they really crave for is pizza: a delicious slice of cheesy and crispy goodness – fast food it may be, but nonetheless, fast food that is made for the middle class. They’d do anything to acquire that slice, and in the process, the director reveals a tale of hope, of heartbreak, of hypocrisy, and a society that is largely preoccupied and callous towards the aspirations of those who are less fortunate. All of this is showcased through the eyes of the two boys, and with a fine balance that neither makes it preachy, nor in a sense, depressing from the boy’s perspective. If anything, the duo seems to be enjoying themselves in a Chennai that doesn’t care. And what more, the acting and the rhythm has a very natural, realistic feel to it and largely stays away from romanticized notions and dramatic contrasts.
Kaakka Muttai is filled with numerous little incidents that might leave an ineradicable scratch in your mind. For instance, the boys for the most part wear dirty, torn clothes and don’t have anything to cover their foot. Scouring through Chennai, they spot two rich kids who long for a pani-puri from a local, roadside shop, but whose parents have forbidden them from doing so, owing to hygienic concerns. The Kaakka Muttai duo strike a deal: you two rich kids get us a pair of nice, new clothes. In return, we head to the shop and bring you the pani-puri you crave. They oblige, and a hilarious scene emerges where we witness the Kaakka Muttais in their newly acquired clothes. Still, their foot remains uncovered, and Manikandan has done a fine job in revealing the inequality through carefully planned scenes such as this.
Both the kids Ramesh and Vignesh shine with effortless performances and it didn’t come as a surprise when they won National Award for their feat in the movie. Ishwarya Rajesh who acted as the mother of the two in a de-glam role hogs the limelight.
Kaakka Muttai disproves the normal perception that award winning films would be slow paced and high-minded with less entertainment quotient and are meant only for critics. Instead it went on to bag numerous international awards and also at the national level.
Overall, with unenhanced visuals that gives a sense of verisimilitude, acting that isn’t staged and dramatized in any obvious sense, and more importantly, characters that bring alive a subsection of the populace, Kaakka Muttai is sure to make you at least a slightly better person than you were before, owing to the reflective power of the film....