Arun Matheswaran brings about the perfect justification in the modern age of monochrome essence by crafting a pessimistic world as a means to deliver despair and suffering. Bergman used to deliver the pessimistic approach through the monochromatic nature of the frame. Despite having a brilliant cast in play, Arun never backed himself from using his distinctive thoughts to introduce the character’s flashback in between intervals. In other words, the monochrome was particularly used to portray the shadiness of the characters, their meaningless lives that were about to fall apart without a hint of hope on the verge of it.
Today we are going to discuss “Saani Kaayidham”, a recent Amazon Prime release directed by Arun Matheswaran. We are going to discuss the cinematography and the masterful acting by the vastly talented duo of Keerthy Suresh and Selvaraghaban. Another aspect of this discussion will be the promising young director, Arun Matheswaran. Since his days with Rocky, he has put together a reputation of his own. So, without further adieu, let’s get right into the cinematography portion of this astoundingly superior thriller.
“Saani Kaayidham” is predominantly a revenge drama that exposes the foundation of casteism and its unlawful absurdities. The cinematography of this film especially picks up a different site than its poetic sculpture. To be precise, Yamini Yagnamurthy, in her previous work in Sillu Karupatti, has shown signs of a good cinematographer, but it was a feel-good drama with a hint of comedy. The tones in that movie were much simpler, while in “Saani Kaayidham” there were several monochromatic shots along with regular framing. The job was different, and by God she pulled it magnificently off.
The Monochrome Scape:
Whenever Yamini escaped from the regular frame into the monochromatic style, she mostly used the establishment shots quite precisely. In a parallel story, the pasts of the two lead characters collide with each other as they find out about their relationship. Their crepuscule joy shatters in the monochrome frames. There was not much of an expression captured so as to denote the full phased vacuum that occupies the hearts of the characters. There was no tone of relief as the characters were left to be united again.
The close-ups and extreme wide shots are used in the monochrome portions of the film. There was a time when the young Sangaiyyah was shown in the bottom left corner of the film with a white background. It was a medium close-up shot with lots of negative space to imply the unprepared void he was facing. Looking at his sister, Ponni, going away from him creates an unsettling emptiness for which he was not at all prepared.
In another subplot, when Ponni is searching for her solace in a dream sequence, she is established in the center of the frame with a hint of pure void. There was also a lot of negative space to denote the emptiness the character was facing. Ponni looks back and finds what she wants to see, i.e. her kid playing with her husband. It was an emotional approach to justify her view of revenge. Establishing the shattered mentality of the character Yamini encrypted a frame worth a million applause.
The Regular Frames:
Normally, the film would not have been unique if it were not for the acting and the storytelling. See, regarding the flaws of casteism, there have been an ample number of movies, but what made “Saani Kaayidham” quite different is the approach through frames. In regular frames, there were a couple of establishment shots and extremely wide shots to express the socio-political aspects of the place where the story was plotted.
In other words, the angels were very simple with a prominent color palette. There were mostly medium and long shots to establish a passage of regular life in a small village. Subsequently, when the scenes get intense, the use of medium close-ups and hand-held camera movements gives an impact of unpreparedness in the buildup of the character’s emotions. Especially in the rape scene, the low angle shot was well established in the end when the revenge was in place. From one victim to another, the mastery of the low angle leaves the audience in awe.
Sangaiyyah and Ponni:
As I have said earlier, the whole film was quite meticulously derived from brilliant acting and larger-than-life storytelling. The auspicious actor duo of Keerthy Suresh and Selvaraghavan has put on a show that will be discussed for a longer period of time. The auteurist touch of Selvaraghavan throughout his time on the screen will leave a mark of pure class and satisfaction.
As a simpleton of the village, the simplicity brought by him into the frames is quite unique yet educative. The essence of a hard-working man, a caring uncle, and a failed brother altogether creates a flood of emotions that is very hard to express in one single frame. Speaking of Selvaraghavan, when he burst into anger for the mishaps in his life in front of Ponni, the source of his anger was quite transparent. The way he wanted to kill the humans who were responsible for his situation was a mere example of how good an actor he is.
On the other hand, Ponni was all about the rage within. She used to bow down to the people superior to her caste, even asking her husband to do so. As the plot progresses and due to egoistic diligence, she gets raped and her family is burnt into ashes, the emotions change. This change of phase was handled pretty well by Keerthy Suresh. She established the notion of rage and anger to lead the audience into her revenge. The fascinating leap from a police woman to a rape victim and then a revenge seeker was pretty extraordinarily portrayed by her.
All in all, “Saani Kaayidham” was a story that was not unique but definitely one of the most compelling revenge thrillers in recent times. The best thing about the monochromatic frames in this film is that they never drive the story; they are just there as a note of the past and dreams. The cinematography itself stands apart in this film, and the process of the storytelling has the simplest way to attract the minds of the audience. My rating for “Saani Kaayidham” would be 7.8/10.