Romance and wickedness/violence are the pet themes of Manirathnam. He handled them exuberantly even at the beginning of his directorial career,in his two simultaneous films Mouna Ragam and Pagal Nilavu. His films like Naayagan, Thalapadhi, Roja and Bombay dealt with underworld crimes,terrorism and communal violence,with a remarkable stamp of originality. Now comes Chekka Chivandha Vaanam dipped in gory violence,born of sibling gangster rivalry,running in the veins of three brothers,after the death of their 'esteemed' gangster father, Prakash Raj,who came to be brutally attacked along with his wife, by hooligans employed by one of his sons.
Unlike in the films of K.Balachander,the women in Manirathnam films are considerably docile,though they talk bold and and behave in a mood of aberration like attempting to smoke a cigarette as Amala did in Agni Natchatram and Simbu's fiancee does in Chekkachivandha Vaanam. Ultimately they reconcile to the traditional mould of womanhood.That is what happens in CCV too, with firm and down to the earth actors like Jayasudha and Jyothika being made to be puppets in the hands of men so as to accept the myth of fatalism, in a mood of stoic resignation.Whereas, the men rule the red sky with their redder spirit of wrath and vengeance. Each of them displays their invincible pep and style, holding their roles responsibly, with absolute consciousness and commitment.The graceful gangster in Prakashraj is a special attraction, followed by the aggressiveness of Arvindswamy,the disarming charm of Arun Vijay and the ruggedness and spontaneity of Simbu. Beyond all of them is Vijay Sethupathi cutting a higher edge in the climax and making his role more remembered than that of others.
Manirathnam seems to have been very scrupulous in considering the seniority of actors even in their titular introduction.Dialogues are a special asset to the film. Santosh Sivan's cinematography is commendable. A.Srihar Prasad's editing makes the fusion of scenes a felicitous treat. A.R. Rehaman could have reduced the volume of his background score especially, in a scene taking place in the police station, where Thiagarajan and the three sons of Prakash Raj meet, over a disagreeable interaction.Songs do not play a significant role in the vast red sky, filled with blood thirsty brotherhood.The theme of bloody superiority and manipulative rivalry perhaps makes the other factors irrelevant
The film is a beautiful comeback for actor Thiagarajan and an ensured commercial hit for Manirathnam's Madras Talkies and the LICA production unit.The element of sweetness in narration is the special ingredient of a Manirathnam film and it does not fail to appeal to the audience, despite the fact that violence rules to the roost, surpassing family values due to the vagaries in character evolution.However in Manirathnam's magic world,violence also becomes a kind of poetic stuff, on account of the fascinating deliberations, involved in choreographing the violent events.Finally,it could be assertively said that Chekka Chivandha Vaanam makes the audience sit up erect and watch the two hour twenty three minutes action drama, with awe and admiration. Manirathnam has won again,after a few failures.