Film: "Kalyana Samayal Saadham"; Cast: Prasanna Venkatesan, Lekha Washington, Delhi Ganesh, Uma Padmanabhan and Crazy Mohan; Director: R.S Prasanna; Rating: ****
What makes a man a 'man'? The premise of the boldly entertaining "Kalyana Samayal Saadham" surrounds whether the answer to the question is a man's ability to perform in bed.
The film's narrative captures scenes from a south Indian arranged marriage and helps us understand that the true definition of a man goes beyond his manhood. Walking a tight rope between a romantic comedy and an adult comedy, the film marries the two genres with a modern-day attitude and leaves a lasting effect.
At heart, the film is a love story of a soon-to-be-married couple - Raghu (Prasanna) and Meera (Lekha), who have to deal with a very personal problem weeks before their wedding. When Raghu comes to learn that he suffers from 'performing anxiety', his idea of a post-marital life crumbles to pieces. But Meera stands by him and so do his friends.
In "Kalyana Samayal Saadham", a modern-day romance is pitted against traditional values. In the world of Facebook and Twitter, do you give preference to century's old cultural doctrines to please your parents or stand up and say 'no'? Or is there a way you can try to be in vogue without having to compromise with your tradition? Answers to these questions are subtly put forth here reinstating the fact that culture and contemporary ideologies can co-exist.
Prasanna neither roots for arranged marriages nor does he prove that love marriages promise happiness. Focusing on the issues that create havoc in an arranged wedding, he also highlights the trivial things about which people in love fight all the time.
As a filmmaker, it is very important not to take sides and this film's director scores an ace in not doing so. He instead allows the audience to choose what is apt for them without trying to be preachy.
Another interesting aspect of the film is that it allows you to see a south Indian wedding through the eyes of two incompatible generations (parents and children). I think it is only in Indian weddings that the parents want to take ownership of everything when it ideally belongs to the couple.
Prasanna takes a stance against this and subtly uses his characters to drive the point across, again without trying to be moralistic but with a great sense of humour.
When Raghu discovers that he suffers from 'performance anxiety', he feels stripped off his ability to perform in bed. His immediate reaction is proof to what most men think in such circumstances and he feels less manly. But Raghu is complemented by a stronger character played by Meera, who admits that sex is important to her, but she is ready to help him overcome his problem because she loves him. Here, love is not the pleasure derived out of sex, but out of togetherness.
One needs guts to handle a controversial subject such as this and since Prasanna pulled it off with unparalleled sensitivity, he proves that he has got them. It's risky to use comedy to underplay the subject at hand but thanks to the use of clean yet naughty humour, it works in the favour of the film. The humour is so good that you would mostly laugh with the jokes.
Love in "Kalyana Samayal Saadham" is not melodramatic; it's cute and akin to modern times. It reminds us of the times we live in where changing the relationship status on Facebook is as important as any other activity in our lives.
The characters in the film make you smile. When was the last time you connected with the characters in a Tamil film? If you want your cinematic appetite to be satisfied, you shouldn't miss "Kalyana Samayal Saadham".