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Friday Film Review: Kandukondain Kandukondain (I Have Found It)

Kondukondain Kondukondain (I Have Found It) (2000)
Genre: Kollywood Family Dramedy
Grade: B+

Ever since I fell in love with “Monsoon Wedding” I’ve been looking for more movies from the Indian subcontinent. Kandukondain Kandukondain (I Have Found It) is highly ranked at Netflix so I added it to my queue. And waited. And waited. Until it was marked with the dreaded “Unavailable.” But I left it in my queue and finally it was available but with the also dreaded “very long wait.” Then I saw it was on sale at a place where I like to buy my DVDs so I took a chance and ordered it. My long wait paid off in spades.

“Rich, young, gorgeous and pampered, sisters Sowyma (Tabu) and Meenakshi (Aishwarya Rai) want for nothing except the true love their hearts crave. While Sowmya grudgingly places family responsibilities head of romance, Meenakshi yearns for a white knight who will come to her “just like a storm.” Three different coincidences bring the girls three very different suitors and a tempest of romantic complications. Manohar (Ajith), an aspiring filmmaker, falls for Sowmya but will wed her only after directing his first film. Commando Major Bala (Mammooty) woos Meenakshi despite physical and emotional war wounds and competition from Srikanth (Abbas), a charismatic poetry-quoting businessman. But with their patriarch’s health ebbing, the romantic storm Meenakshi and Sowmya wished for may soon be eclipsed by the harsh realities of modern South Asian life.”

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Kandukondain Kandukondain is actually not a Bollywood film since it’s in the Tamil language. I believe it’s called Kollywood but whatever the official designation it’s great. Vibrant is a word I could use to describe all the movies I’ve watched in these genres. The colors dance in front of my eyes, dazzling me. The better movies have songs which make my feet tap as I sway to the rhythms. Needless to say I was bebopping all the way through this one. For those who haven’t seen a B/Kollywood movie, expect a full fledged song and dance number at various times throughout the film. They seem to add about half an hour to any movie. However, if you don’t care for them, just fast forward though them.

No doubt the Austenistas are getting impatient for me to comment on how well the film resembles the book. Since it’s been years since I read the book, I honestly can’t answer that. How good an adaptation of Emma Thompson’s screenplay is it? Very good, is my answer – with some twists that make it uniquely Indian. There are a few changes to the storyline as the family isn’t tossed out of their palatial home until the grandfather dies at about the 1 hour mark. It’s then that they move to Chennai (Madras) rather than endure the bitchy wife who Sowmya and Meenakshi’s uncle married. Sowmya and later Meenakshi then go out and get jobs to help support the family as does their mother.

Manohar comes from a wealthy family but he doesn’t want to use his engineering degree or work for his father’s company. Instead it’s being an assistant director in the film industry which has alienated him from his family. But perhaps the oddest difference is the way the film opens, with some background scenes of Major Bala’s former military life. At first, I wondered WTF? Is this some kind of preview for another film? But it’s more insight into what made his character begin drinking and become so bitter and moody before meeting the young woman who captures his heart. Srikanth hasn’t ruined any young women. Rather it’s his shady private bank which defaults on its investors that brings him to ruin and causes him to have to marry another woman.

But the rest of the story follows the outline Thompson wrote. Sowmya and Manohar are already in love but separated by circumstances. There’s even “the other woman” who temporarily steps between them. Meenakshi loves her poetry and initially spurns the man who is more practical – bringing pillows upon which to rest her injured ankle – for the one who can quote poetry to her. Their younger sister has a passion for science and their mother is a loving airhead. Meenakshi finds out Srikanth’s betrayal of their love and almost dies as a result of her heartbreak yet this event makes her finally see the man who does truly love her.

And when Meenakshi confesses her love to Bala, I teared up. Have you ever finally gotten something you’ve wanted for so long? Something you never thought you’d get, that you had given up hope to ever get? And when you get it, you’re almost afraid to touch it? That is this scene and Mammooty plays it beautifully. I will confess that the HEA scene between Sowmya and Manohar doesn’t work as well with a martyrish Sowmya initially turning him away before changing her mind to “yes” almost in the blink of an eye. It’s the one time the movie falters for me though, so I can live with it.

Right now, short of buying it, I think the only way to see this film is on youtube. Just type in KandukondEin (note it’s been uploaded spelled with a final E not A) and the first part should come up. It is long (2.5 hours) and the subtitles flash by so be prepared to read quickly. But if you open yourself to trying something different – and yet the same – you just might fall for it as I have. B+

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

29 Comments

  1. Hannah
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 09:05:30

    I checked out the DVD from the library a few years ago but I found the Tamil language strange to listen to–I supposed I could have just watched the subtitles and turned the sound on for the songs though. I don’t think you mention in your review that the film is based on Sense and Sensibility though you refer to Jane Austen.

  2. Barb
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 09:54:16

    I bought a copy years ago, right after seeing “Bride and Prejudice”. But it took until this past year for a bunch of us to get together and watch it. We loved it. Glad you were finally able to see it.

  3. Jayne
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 10:01:03

    @Hannah: You’re right, I didn’t mention the specific Austen book it’s based on. I did mention that it’s based more on Emma Thompson’s screenplay for that movie adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility” but I should have been more clear.

  4. Jayne
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 10:06:29

    @Barb: It’s definitely worth the effort to watch it. Did you have an Austen party screening of it?

  5. Linda Mooney
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 10:21:29

    Jayne, As a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, I never thought a Bollywood film would be my cup of tea until I saw “Krrish”. At first I laughed, then I couldn’t get it out of my head. Now I own a copy of the film and the soundtrack. Thanks for another suggestion!

  6. Jayne
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 10:38:44

    @Linda Mooney: Krrish sounds interesting but reviewers at Netflix suggest seeing Koi first – which isn’t available. Can Krrish stand on its own?

  7. Linda Mooney
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 10:44:55

    Krrish is the second film of a trilogy, but it stands totally on its own, IMHO. I’ve never seen the first film. Can’t find a copy to rent.

  8. L.A.D.
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 12:50:15

    This makes me want to try a B/Kollywood film.

    Someone may have brought this up but I think that the woman who directed Monsoon Wedding (which I love and own and have watched 52 million times)also directed the movie Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love.

    Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love is a beautiful film and one of the only five movies that have made me cry…and cry in front of other people no less.

  9. Jayne
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 12:56:46

    @L.A.D.: I’ve thought about renting Kama Sutra but wonder if it has a HEA.

  10. L.A.D.
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 13:58:36

    Jayne: I wish I knew how to do that thing where you hide a spoiler. Instead, I will do this the old skool way.

    SPOILER ALERT (It’s spoiler lite but still…)
    *
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    *
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    There is a serious lack of an HEA. It’s a very angsty film- I don’t think there’s any ‘happy’ in it- and the ending stays true to that. I will divulge no more (unless you really want me to) because it will lessen the impact when the ending punches you in the heart.
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    END SPOILER

  11. Sunita
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 14:44:13

    @L.A.D.: Yup. Mira Nair. I still like Mississippi Masala the best, but that’s probably because it’s about immigrant motel owners and has Denzel in it.

    Jayne, I learn something new from you again! I always assumed Tollywood was Tamil Bollywood, and some people use it that way, but you are correct. Kollywood is Tamil language, Tollywood is Telegu language film industry. Huh.

  12. Jayne
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 14:53:12

    @Sunita: Well now I’ve learned something back as I didn’t know the term Tollywood. How many different “woods” are there in the Indian film industry?

  13. L.A.D.
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 16:21:01

    @Sunita: I tried to watch Mississippi Masala three times. I just couldn’t get through it.

    I blame it on Denzel Washington. People act like it’s blasphemy but I don’t like his acting. Maybe I’ll try again one day.

  14. Kim
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 18:51:02

    Linda and Jayne,

    Re: Koi Mil Gaya and Krrish. I’m a huge fan of Hrithik Roshan’s films (the star of these movies). I much prefer Krrish (and it kind of summarizes the Koi in it, right?). Koi was one of Roshan’s first hits, but I’m not a big fan of the silly E.T. alien theme…I much prefer the superhero/Matrixesque nature of the sequel. Krrish 2 is in production now, I think.

    All that being said, the best Hrithik Roshan movies are Kabbi Kushi Kabhi Gham, Dhoom 2 (stands alone) and Jodhaa Akhbar. The last title is one of the best epic historical romances ever! It stars Hrithik and Aishwariya Rai (the star of the film reviewed here, too). It’s just amazing and it streams on Netflix I think!

    I’ve been a Bollywood fan for a couple of years now and I’ve also seen many Kollywood films (including this one here which I didn’t love). I’d recommend the Kollywood film Magadheera for another epic romance with outlandish plot details.

    There is also a Tollywood, It’s the Telugu film industry in India.

  15. Maili
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 05:23:54

    @Jayne: Technically, zero. All these -wood terms are informal nicknames to make it easier for English-native people like me to memorise which is what. :D Understandable as Indian cinema is massive. Bigger than the U.S. and Japan, I’d say. Their Most Productive Film Industry crown was knocked off by Nigeria (Nollywood) in recent years, though. This is as far as I know:

    Tollywood – West Bengal (Bengali) It’s the oldest and – used to be – the biggest slice of Indian cinema. ‘Tollywood’ apparently comes from Tollygunge.

    I have seen people associate Tollywood with Andhra Pradesh (Telugu), but I’m not sure why as Andhra Pradesh usually falls under Kollywood?

    Dhallywood – Dhaka (Bangladeshi)
    Kollywood – Kodambakkam (Tamil/Telugu)
    Sandalwood – Karnataka (Kannada)
    Lollywood – Lahore (Punjabi/Urdu)
    Mollywood – Kerala (Malayalam)

    Bollywood – Bombay (now Mumbai) Bollywood was created after ‘Tollywood’ became popular. Unlike all above, Bollywood geographically didn’t belong to anywhere, but after the 1980s or like so, it became associated with the Mumbai film industry.

    There was an attempt among fans of Gujarati cinema to populate ‘Gollywood’, but it didn’t take off.

    There are more, I’m sure, but this is as far as I know. I may be wrong, too. I’m so and embarrassingly out of depth in this area of Asian cinema.

    On a slightly different note:

    Kino International (http://www.kino.com) is licensed to distribute Kandukondain Kandukondain in the US. It can be purchased through Amazon.com, Kino (http://www.kino.com/video/item.php?film_id=734) or just google the ASIN ‘B0006J280U’.

    It’s available on video streaming sites and TV channels. Like Sun TV Network (http://www.sun.in), which has an international coverage including the US, the UK, some European countries, Australia, etc.
    @Sunita: I loved Mississippi Masala! I’m almost ashamed to admit I only saw it because of Sarita Choudhury. Shallow, I know, but I don’t care. :D

  16. Mala
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 12:39:40

    I haven’t seen this one, but I’ll have to add it to my list. Thanks for the review, Jayne! Tamil’s a gorgeous language and Mani Ratnam has made some of my favorite films, including Roja, Bombay and Yuva.

    And since we’re talking regional cinema, some classic Bengali/Tollywood films worth checking out are the Uttam Kumar/Suchitra Sen films from the 1950s. They were the “It” couple of the era, making hit film after hit film together. Harano Sur never fails to make me cry!

  17. Mala
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 12:42:21

    Forgot to make a transition up there somewhere. Mani Ratnam was not involved with Kondukondain Kondukondain. He’s just a fabulous Tamil filmmaker.

  18. Sunita
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 13:45:02

    @Maili: Oh, she was gorgeous. I loved her too in that movie.

    I think the name Bollywood took off in the 1970s, by which time the big-budget, crowd-pleasing Hindi masala film industry was well entrenched in Bombay. There were certainly tons of actors and production people in the city from the 1950s on at least.

  19. Katrina
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 14:41:31

    When I was in India a couple years ago, I went to the cinema in Jaipur. It was massive and such an amazing experience. My husband and I saw Dil Bole Haddipa (which I think means Go For It) – so much fun! Highly recommend. A young woman dresses up like a man to join the Indian cricket team and ends up falling for the captain.

    Another great film is Lagaan. It’s also about cricket, but it’s set during British rule. The only lame part is when the English love-rival sings in cheezy English.

    Jayne, thanks for writing this review. I’m putting on my to-see list.

  20. Maili
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 14:54:37

    @Sunita: Thanks for the correction. It makes sense.

    I’m always nervous when discussing ‘Bollywood’. I still don’t understand the concept of Bollywood (sub-genre? language? location? type?). There are some influential people who deeply detest the nickname. They refer the Mumbai industry as ‘Hindi cinema’.

    They can be quite pissed off if we used ‘Bollywood’ instead. And yet they would be fine with the use if we refer to certain films (that didn’t seem to have anything in common including languages). It was a minefield each time. (*weeps* Hold me, Sunita. It was so scary and confusing.)

  21. Sunita
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 15:44:09

    @Maili: I have no idea either, TBH. You hear it all the time now in regular discourse, but I can imagine people making serious Hindi films would hate it. I always think of it as being about total masala films, but I could easily be wrong.

    Could it be analogous to the commercial-indie distinction in the US? Not that that works anymore either, what with “indies” being made by Hollywood companies all the time.

    Now I too am confused.

    @Katrina: Don’t tell anyone, but I used to show Lagaan in my Indian Politics undergrad class. Cricket, colonialism, and Aamir Khan. What’s not to like?

  22. A.
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 03:56:12

    I recommend Minsara Kanavu by the same director of Kandukondein Kandukondein… Wonderful, joyous songs by A.R. Rahman.

  23. A.
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 04:03:21

    Man falls in love with a girl who wants to be a nun, takes love lessons from a rake/love sceptic – i forget which. The girl ends up falling in love with the rake/sceptic. The songs, dances, the colour – exceptional stuff.

  24. Jayne
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 08:16:37

    @A.: Aarrrgh! This one is only available to be “saved” to my Netflix rental queue as well. But I’ve put it there so maybe one day…

  25. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy
    Feb 08, 2011 @ 04:59:42

    I’ve been into Bollywood films for quite some time – Monsoon Wedding is beautiful but not typical of Bollywood films (sex before marriage? kissing in the film? – not typical) :) so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll have to look a bit harder and I have a few recs for those films, too.

    Instead, for lighthearted & music-filled movies, there are a ton!

    I endorse @Kim’s suggestions for Hrithik fans (loved Dhoom 2) – I like Hrithik but am now obsessed with the second thumb on his hand and look to see how they hide it in his films (Google it!)

    Here’s a few others:
    – Shahruhk Khan is one of the most popular Indian actors and had a “rebirth” as a sex symbol in the past few years. For classic: Kabhi Kashi Kabhie Gham as mentioned above or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai; For his newer stufff: Om Shanti Om is still one of my favorite films and has a great soundtrack; also Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.

    – Shahid Kapoor is newer, and to me is like the Indian Tom Cruise (in his good years!) and I like his films – Jab We Met has great music and the story, too.

  26. Hema
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 03:47:48

    I am so glad to have found your blog.. Kandukondain was an average hit.. but it did well in Hindi than in tamil.. i am a south indian, native chennai. I love those songs composed by AR Rahman (Oscar winner, slumdog millionaire). It is one of the few films with good and deep meaning in the songs. If you are interested, may i recommend a few more films.Kannathil muthamittal is another blockbuster with good music. Taare Zameen par will make u cry. It is the story of a child suffering from dyslexia. Do drop in if you need anything about our culture or movies.. I would be glad to help.

  27. Jayne
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 05:20:12

    @Hema Thanks for the recs Hema. My main problem with foreign movies is access and right now Netflix only has Taare Zameen par available (which has been added to my rental queue).

  28. Madhu
    Feb 20, 2011 @ 12:01:46

    The two Telugu movies that I recently liked were Magadheera & Godavari. Both are on YouTube too.

  29. Madhu L
    Feb 20, 2011 @ 12:03:09

    The two Telugu movies that I recently liked were Magadheera & Godavari. Both are on YouTube too.

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