Titling a film is an art in itself. That’s why I always make a point of mentioning whenever I come across a good title, and this one definitely merits a mention. I assume it means “A Bird’s Nest in the Wind”. That is really a very evocative way of describing the essence of the movie, which is about a close family who finds their close bonds shaken when a “gust of wind” passes through their lives. The latter refers to a young girl, Asha, who becomes a student at the university where the father of the family teaches. She has a boyfriend, Unnikrishnan (a young Mohanlal) who forms a platonic bond with the father’s wife. However, this doesn’t sit well with Asha’s childishly possessive nature, and she retaliates by attempting to create a romance with the father, causing a rift in the family.
At first glance, one might say that variations of this plot have been told on soap operas and daytime serials for a long, long time. However, it’s the mark of good filmmaking that Kattathe Kilikoodu is told with the sort of grace that you would never find in those versions, elevating it to a higher realm of quality. I will be upfront and say that I did not like everything about the movie, and I will discuss the negative points later. But there is too much else to enjoy to dismiss it too easily. The directing is heavily character-oriented and this is supported ably by a set of extremely capable actors. The almost-unlikable-yet-somewhat-charming arrogance of Unnikrishnan has been portrayed perfectly by Mohanlal and the almost grating childishness of Asha is is also expressed very well in Revathy’s character.
Of course, the core of the film is built around the family of the professor, and the first quarter of the movie shows us their relationship. Showing familial love on screen can be tricky, since sometimes it ends up feeling sentimentalized and dressed up for the camera. That’s one area where Kattathe Kilikkoodu really shines – the interactions between the family at the beginning have a playful believability to them. Unlike a lot of other films which try to do the same thing, it honestly feels like a window into a family’s life instead of cinematic scenes meant to make us go “aww”. The child actors aren’t the focus of the film, but they, like everyone else, have registered some good performances here.
On the previous note, however, I feel that the film takes some missteps in the second half when it comes to the behaviour of the characters, particularly in the climactic scene where Unnikrishnan and Asha resolve their dispute, which felt somewhat sudden and thus a little too theatrical. I would say my main issue, though, was that I felt there was something lacking in the way the “relationship” between the professor and Asha was built, particularly with regards to the professor’s personality and character. Considering the wonderful acting and extremely natural way the other relationships were told, something didn’t quite feel right about this one. I suppose I didn’t really buy that the character, as he had been developed, would have found himself in such a situation.
Regardless, Kattathe Kilikkoodu is still a wonderful movie, and I would easily recommend it on the merit of the acting alone. This is another one of those wonderful character-oriented drama films of the 80s.
Another aspect of the film I really loved was the opening credit sequence, which has simple pictures of birds nests accompanied by a gentle music box melody. Just wonderful.