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If Agni Natchathiram approached the theme of man loving two women and their children equally with some seriousness and poise, Kathuvakula Rendu Kadhal is a breezy attempt that fails to carry conviction.
Ranjankudi Anbarasu Murugesa Boopathy Ohonthiran, aka Rambo, played by Vijay Sethupathy, is an Ola cab driver who doubles up as a bouncer in a nightclub. Rambo’s father and mother got married under such circumstances that the younger siblings of his father and mother couldn’t get married. Rambo therefore considers himself ill-fated.
The love of one woman would be a godsend for this poor Rambo who deserves our sympathy. What about the love of two? Well, if you can look beyond the bigamy and think Rambo is deserving of the love of two women, then you are with Rambo and with Kathuvakula Rendu Kadhal.
Khadija (Samantha) and Kanmani (Nayanthara) are the women. But, no, Rambo’s feelings are not lust, but pure love. He is happy just with their presence, he tells them. Convinced by this true love, they compete to share him, rather than tear him up.
The film is populated almost entirely by three characters. Others such as Prabhu, Kala Master, Kingsley, Maran, Dilip Subbarayan and many others are in the screenplay but get little backing. Former cricket player Sreesanth makes an appearance as Samantha’s boyfriend but gets a bashing from Vijay Sethupathy.
The humour takes off only in the climax, for about 20 minutes. For that, we have to sit through a two-hour movie.
Khadija is a Muslim. Rambo’s mother has a Muslim name. They fit the Sanghi social media stereotype of Muslim women accepting polygamy.
Tamils especially in cities are moving towards serial monogamy. They have multiple relationships, boyfriends and girlfriends but one after another. While divorced women still baulk at marrying again, a legal divorce is certainly an option for many.
In that sense, Kathuvakula Rendu Kadhal is a throwback to another time – a time of Rettai Vaal Kuruvi, Veera, and so on. To make us accept Rambo’s POV, his unconvincing backstory is cited. It is brought up often enough but if it truly drives Rambo’s character, the audience fails to see it.
Song sequences featuring the hero with several women are passé in Tamil films. A Thenali where Kamal dances with Jothika and his sister-in-law Devayani is rare and can be dismissed as an indulgence. If only Kathuvakula Rendu Kadhal had treated such an idea as a cliché and spoofed it, audiences may have accepted it.
S R Kadhir and Vijay Karthik Kannan have captured the strengths and beauty of Nayan and Samantha. Two of Anirudh’s songs provide the perk demanded in the screenplay while two introduce sobriety. Vijay Sethupathy, the hero who doesn’t play the hero, may be perfect for the role of Rambo on paper. But his love confessions sound hollow.
Kathuvakula Rendu Kadhal is neither a comedy film nor a heartbreaking romance. What else is there in it then?
There is an inadvertent but perhaps intended controversy in the film. Khadija is a Muslim. Rambo’s mother has a Muslim name. They fit the Sanghi social media stereotype of Muslim women accepting polygamy.
Instead of hijab and burqa, Khadija’s clothes are a voyeur’s delight. Rambo’s aunt marries a Christian priest. It doesn’t seem that these are random suggestions. Perhaps they are intended to provoke and draw attention.
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