Kannathil Muthamittal – A Peck on the Cheek

Kannathil Muthamittal – A Peck on the Cheek

A Glimpse of Kannathil Muthamittal

Kannathil Muthamittal was a story about a 9-year-old Sri Lankan child, Amudha. She was adopted by an Indian couple whose only desire is to meet her biological mother amid the Lankan civil war. The ace director Maniratnam after completing his terrorist-centric trilogy, i.e., Roja, Bombay, and Dil Se, mostly dealt with the religious problems people faced in north India.

A Glimpse of Kannathil Muthamittal

A Glimpse of Kannathil Muthamittal

In his previous trilogy, the stories revolve around the hind and Muslim relationships and their differences. But for this particular film, Mani shifted his gears to south India and chose a subject that focuses on the more significant problems of Srilanka and its people.

Kannathil Muthamittal begins in a remote village of Srilanka where Shyama (The biological mother of Amudha) marries Dileepan with few Srilanka Tamils who belong to the LTTE group. After completing the marriage and leading a happy life, when everything is going well, suddenly, a troop of the Srilanka army ambushes Dileepan ( The leader of the LTTE group), who forces Shyama to leave the place and later flees into the woods.

Shyama Marries Dileepan

Shyama Marries Dileepan

The backdrop of this turmoil is as follows: Essentially, Sri Lanka is bifurcated into two parts. Each has its traditions, history & religion; the Singhalese’s and the Tamil’s. Both had significant differences that resulted in many Tamil’s segregations from Jobs, education, and government positions. As a result of these consequences and domination by the Srilanka people, war broke out, and the Tamilians continued their fight against the then government.

Shyama losts her Husband

Shyama lost her Husband.

Shyama understands that she is pregnant and waiting for her husband’s return is in vain. Her villagers begin migrating to India to seek refuge due to the war. Shyama is initially reluctant and stubborn to leave her village and husband behind. But her villagers persuade her to seek shelter in a refugee camp for the sake of the unborn child. While returning to the ship, one of the villagers exclaims that he saw her husband badly wounded in the forest.

Shyama wants to return to her village, but it is already late; while Shyama reaches the refugee camp, she gives birth to the child. Shyama’s overwhelming desire to meet her wounded husband camouflaged her thoughts in the conflicting emotions. She leaves behind her newborn girl hoping that the girl will get a better & peaceful life.

Shyama Leaves Amudha at Refugee Camp

Shyama Leaves Amudha at Refugee Camp

Nine years later, in India, Amudha is told by her adopted parents Indra & thiru, that she was adopted from a refugee camp in Rameswaram. Amudha utterly shocks by the revelation and experiences deep angst, and starts distancing from her adopted parents. A lot of questions arise in her mind. Amudha understands that she belongs to a different set of parents and a foreign country altogether. The young girl wants to meet her birth mother, and strong desire implants in her mind.

Amudha Knows the Truth

Amudha Knows the Truth

One day she confronts the adoptive parents about her adoption process. Then the story flashes back to nine years ago in Rameswaram. Thiru was an aspiring writer who frequently visits the refugee camp and writes stories inspired by the people. In a particular situation, thiru happened to see the newborn girl baby; it is none other than Amudha and writes a story about her. Indra is thiru’s neighbor, and she has a crush on thiru.

After witnessing the newborn girl’s helpless state, Thiru decides to adopt her but realizes that he can’t do so without marrying someone. So, to adopt the baby, he proposes to Indra and marries her. They both get married and adopt the baby girl naming her Amudha. Later, after some years, Indra gives birth to Vinay & Akhil.

Thiru & Indra Marries and adopts Amudha

Thiru & Indra Marries and Adopts Amudha

Even after this revelation and hearing, Amudha is not convinced and requests Indra and thiru to meet her mother. Indra explains the scenario and tells her it is impossible to find her mother in the current situation of Srilanka. Amudha is very reluctant; her angst, quest, and hope to meet her mother are reflected in her eyes. Without her adopted parents’ consent, she looks for various ways to reach the still war-torn Sri Lanka Island.

In finding her birth-mother, Amudha, and her cousin plot a secret plan and reach the orphanage from where she is adopted. Amudha’s adopted parents went in search of them and finally found them in the orphanage. Indra and Thiru are amazed by the stubbornness and deprivation of Amudha and promise her to find her Mother in Srilanka.

Leaving the two boys at home, Amudha, Indra, and Thiru reach Srilanka and meet Dr. Vikramasinghe, a Sinhalese friend of thiru, who helps them find out the whereabouts of Amudha’s mother with his influence. Amudha’s behavior towards Indra deteriorates even more, and her longing to meet her birth mother intensifies. Keeping all this chaos aside, Indra still keeps calm and goes in search of the Amudha mother.

Amudha Reaches Srilanka with Thiru & Indra

Amudha Reaches Srilanka with Thiru & Indra

Thiru and Vikramasinghe searched Amudha in the forest that is expected to be the hideout of LLTE Rebels. The group of LLTE captures Thiru and Vikram. Thiru reacted by reciting the Tamil poems written by him, and the group leader immediately identifies him as a famous writer. Thiru then exclaims his purpose for visiting Srilanka and mentions that the only evidence he has regarding the Amudha birth mother is Shyama’s name.

LTTE Rebels Confronts Thiru and Vikram

LTTE Rebels Confronts Thiru and Vikram

The group leader then understands the situation and promises to arrange a meeting in a designated spot. It is later revealed that the group leader is the brother of Shyama, who is part of the LTTE group living in isolation. The next day Amudha, Thiru, Indra, and Vikram reach the spot and wait for Shyama, but a series of bomb blasts occur as the Srilanka army attacks the hideout of the rebels. Indra, while trying to escape, gets shot in her arm and shifted to the nearby hospital. Amudha later apologizes to Indra for her behavior and pleads that they all return to India.

Shyama finally comes to Meet Amudha

Shyama finally comes to Meet Amudha.

The next day the family leaves behind the meeting of Shyama and begins to start their journey to the airport, but out of the blue, Indra insists on going back to the spot where Shyama promises to come for one last time. As they wait in the same place Shyama arrives, Amudha stares at her mother, shows her the album of her childhood, and confronts her with a series of questions that Shyama cannot answer.

Amudha begs her mother to come back to Chennai and lead an everyday life with her. For this request, Shyama, with her drench full eyes, refuses, saying that she has a lot of work to do in Srilanka, and once the peace prevails in the country, she asks Amudha to come back to her. Shyama says that her parents will give a good life to her, which she may not provide due to the current situation and circumstances in her life.

Shyama then holds Amudha and showers her with kisses and leaves the place with a sea of pain in her heart. Amudha then hugs Thiru and Indra while Shyama leaves, and a teary-eyed Amudha kisses her parents and restates her love towards her.

Mani Ratnam took another country’s problem and creatively linked it with India and its closeness due to its Tamil population. Kannathil Muthamittal film’s genius is that it doesn’t say which side is good or bad. Shyama wants to give her daughter a good life without suffering in the war land of Srilanka, but the story goes round and round and reaches back to Shyama.

Shyama’s reaction to Amudha makes sense because Amudha has a better life because of thiru and Indra that she needs in the first place. Some people say the characterization of Shyama in the final scene of the movie is weak compared to her nuances and emotions at the beginning of the story. I strongly condemn this statement that she showed little emotion when she met her daughter after many years.

Shyama’s heart is filled with agony and pain. She can openly express her emotions towards her kid, but she is reluctant because Amudha has a good life. If she sticks to her baby’s emotion, Amudha might have a change of heart and cannot live with her, so she hides her feelings and leaves to the place where she is uncertain about her very own life.

Maniratnam Explaining a Scene to Keerthana (Amudha)

Maniratnam Explaining a Scene to Keerthana

Maniratnam is good at drawing the emotions of his characters and the roles of PS keerthana as Amudha, Simran as Indra, Madhavan as thiru, and Nanditha Das as Shyama is the testimony to this fact. The way he tackled the little girl (Amudha) in the movie is just phenomenal, and the performance by keerthana is off once in a lifetime (For that, she received a national award for best child artist). The Climax scene where she expresses her emotions towards her biological mother can convince any diehard movie critic.

Keerthana Receiving a National award for Best Child Artist from APJ Abdul Kalam

Keerthana Receiving a National award for Best Child Artist.

My Experience with Kannathil Muthamittal

Kannathil Muthamittal is my first jaw-dropping Tamil cinema experience that defied all expectations. It’s a versatile film with high Production values, Screenplay, Background score & outstanding music (by AR Rahman) and Audiography by Sridhar and Laxmi Narayanan elevated every movie scene. Vairamuthu wrote the Tamil version’s lyrics, and Veturi Sundararama Murthy penned Telugu lyrics adding incredible value and richness to the plot. Lyricist Vairamuthu won the National Film Award for Best Lyrics for the title song Kannathil Muthamittal.

Elegantly photographed scenery and cinematography by Ravi K. Chandran are on par with international standards. The fast-paced editing techniques by Sreekar Prasad adds charm to the movie. The strong performances from all the leading actors are of the highest quality and take you to another world of Indian cinema that you never witnessed before.

Kannathil Muthamittal is a clear winner at various international festivals and received numerous awards and accolades. Some of them are 6 National Film Awards, India, Audience Award – Los Angeles Indian Film Festival, In Spirit for Freedom Award – Jerusalem Film Festival, Official Selection – Toronto International Film Festival. Here is the full list of accolades received by Kannathil Muthamittal.

Maniratnam uniquely crafted the script, threw us into the world of Amudha, and let us see what is happening through a 9-year-old girl’s eyes.

References:

  • https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/tamil/movies/photo-features/birthday-special-r-madhavan-five-must-watch-films-of-the-actor/kannathil-muthamittal/photostory/64411463.cms
  • https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/mother-conflict-why-simrans-kannathil-muthamittal-unforgettable-128356
  • https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0312859/reviews
  • https://www.mouthshut.com/review/Kannathil-Muthamittal-Movie-review-rsrutsuro
  • https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1177735-1177735-peck_on_the_cheek/reviews
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roja_(film)
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombay_(film)
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dil_Se.
  • https://www.britannica.com/topic/Sinhalese
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberation_Tigers_of_Tamil_Eelam
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rameswaram
  • https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1149405/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Madhavan
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simran_(actress)
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nandita_Das
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._S._Laxmi_Narayanan
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._Sridhar
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mani_Ratnam
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vairamuthu
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veturi
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravi_K._Chandran
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._Sreekar_Prasad

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