A write-up on one of Selvaraghavan’s most scintillating scenes on the man’s birthday…
When the shoddy-looking Vinoth walks into a college classroom in an early sequence of Kaadhal Kondein, Selvaraghavan, the filmmaker seemed to hint at a peculiar kind of writing – one that spoke more to the soul than the cerebral neurons – an art he had arguably perfected over the course of his career.
In this stretch in Kaadhal Kondein, where we come to know more about the introverted Vinoth, Selva effortlessly turns the tables on us by making us root for the traumatized young genius – someone we and the entire class had viewed with loathsome indifference – moments earlier.
“How do these idiots even get into college? See the kind of reservation policies we are reeling under!” The professor sighs under his breath, spewing endless venom at the ilk Vinoth vaguely represents and the skewness of our selection policies – till the unkempt youngster, unsettled by the fleet of cold-stares that relentlessly drill into his bewildered psyche, manages to find a seat in a lone corner.
Soon, in a moment of tense unease, the professor luckily stumbles upon an excuse to plough on his deep-etched aversion for the shabby-looking guy. When he finds Vinoth stealing a measly-nap during his lecture, he readily humiliates him before the whole class by labeling him ‘undeserving’, and lay bares the scruffy guy’s apparently conspicuous nitwittedness.
The chalk-duster, thanks to the Professor’s rage, lands on Vinoth’s forehead painting half of his face, absurdly white. The boy stares ahead, unable to breathe, completely overwhelmed by this unexpected barrage of slurs. Blaming dunces like Vinoth as the cause for Engineering education never finding an ultimate ‘purpose’, the Professor challenges the befuddled boy to solve a problem, which had taken him two days to make sense of.
“Have you ever seen the equation in your life? Forget it. At least, go to the board and stand like a scarecrow. You could, at least, get to see some of the symbols for the first time!”
The scorching words resound through the room. We wait with bated breath for Vinoth’s reaction, as he stands there helpless, fear slowly eating into disgrace, like a deer frozen in front the headlights in a crowded Highway, chalk-speckles splintering off his countenance.
Poor guy! It’s quite a hard sight to take in. An orphan by circumstances, who had grown up in his own personal space, suddenly pushed into the judgmental claws of reality with unapologetic force! You half-wish a Hollywood ‘feel-good drama’ moment where the professor turns all benevolent, calls him back and gives him some gooseflesh pep talk in the lines of what you truly are is what you are in the inside. Alas!
Just as the professor continues his never-ending dressing down, faint rustles echo through the room, which slowly escalate into unmistakable murmurs.
Yuvan’s soul-stirring background score now makes an artful appearance.
As Vinoth walks back to his spot with an unruffled shrug, after nonchalantly dissecting the equation into its core pieces on the blackboard, and continues his ‘thug life’ siesta – but not before returning the piece of chalk to the professor on his way – Selva seems to be making some sort of a statement.
There is much more to diffident, self-conscious introverts, than what meets the eye.
The chef-d’œuvree punch? The meta-ness of it all.
A smaller version of this piece was first published in http://www.iflickz.com