[I don't think there are any spoilers, but I would really like you to read this after you've seen the movie.]
There are two things that make writing about a really good movie difficult - everything to be said has already been said by someone else, there's plenty to talk about that you are spoilt for what to mention and what to leave.
I, just like several others, got really excited for OK Kanmani after the teaser came out. I knew right then that I would be writing about OK Kanmani, because it has been really long since I got this excited for a movie. I don't know what prompted that emotion, may be because this is the first Mani Ratnam love story I am watching as an adult, after having lived and loved. The Alaipayuthe-2 talks started to surface. Personally, I have seen Karthik and Shakthi's happily ever after. It is done for. They're in their late thirties, with their eldest demanding double digit candles on his birthday cake, and youngest losing her first tooth.
It is time for Adi and Tara. Funny how these commonplace names become, "I am naming my kid that" after Mani uses them. Do you realize how he doesn't give you a background story, how I grew up story for most of his characters? Because we don't need them. Make them fall in love already. We want to hear what he calls her this time around. Calling the girlfriend pondatti has become so commonplace. He tells us, at the beginning of the movie, "Oru oppandham senjupom. Indha sentiment, azhugai, edhuvum vandaam. Sandhoshama irupom indha 2 mani neram, wild-ah." We agree before we know what hit us, and as two people exchange wedding vows, Adi and Tara exchange phone numbers. You leave the next two hours in the hands of Mani, PC, Srikar Prasad and Rahman where they pull one trick after another on you. It is nothing special, but you come out of the theater telling yourself, that's how happy I will be in my life. I can. (While telling your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife - "Namma kal vaapas varom.")
Now that that's out of the way, it is Bhavani and Ganapathy who stuck with me after I came home from the movie. It has been more than 12 hours since Adi and Tara got married, but I want to go back to the moment when my heart melted as Prakashraj says "Kalaila Ganapathyyyy nu koopudumbodhu ellam seri aidum." May be Mani wanted to warn all of us after he saw how Alaipayuthe ended up shaping how men and women will fall in love in the coming years. When Ganapathy stands there and looks at Bhavani as she is slowly moving her head to Malargalai Keten, and you fully expect him to shed a couple of tears (and he doesn't, you do), Mani is screaming through the silence "You idiots! That's not how it happens, this is how."
Mani is as real as it gets, and Mani is as far away from reality we can go. Everyone is middle class. Everyone has enough money. Karthik and Shakthi did not worry about EB and Phone bills. He knows we don't come to the movie to be reminded of the very things that we came there to forget.
Mani is this person who cannot contain himself when given a stage to tell a story. We often complain a lot that he doesn't talk much, that his characters always have short dialogues. But Mani always conveys a lot more than we hold him accountable for. From Kamal and Saranya in Nayakan, like that famous photo of a couple kissing when a riot was brewing, Amudha longing to give her mother one more hug while a bunch of people are holding with their dear lives to their motherland, to Bhavani. Mani knows that as much as we enjoy the vennpongal that is his unparalleled boy-meets-girl-falls-head-over-heels story, we long for and romanticize the milagu in the form of the mature story that he manages to squeeze in. It is healthy.
According to me, Mani has set everything right and has shaped the next couple of decades of romance.
"Onnala Ganapathy uncle mari irukka mudiyuma?"