Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru in Navarasa - Did Gautham Menon intend this to be a fictional take on AR Rahman's beginnings?
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Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru in Navarasa - Did Gautham Menon intend this to be a fictional take on AR Rahman's beginnings?

The short, a part of Netflix's latest anthology Navarasa, featured Suriya, Prayaga Martin and Thulasi in lead roles

Srivathsan Nadadhur
Aug 07, 2021
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The 'shringara' segment in Netflix's Tamil anthology Navarasa, titled Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru, directed by Gautham Menon, was easily one of the most awaited among the nine shorts by streaming enthusiasts across the globe. Well, the short did explore the shringara rasa but didn't give audiences much to cherish beyond the generic and increasingly stale template of the filmmaker's most urban romances. Of course, there were a few silver linings, from Prayaga Martin's screen presence to singer, composer Karthik's terrific score and PC Sreeram's stellar cinematography. 

Additionally, one couldn't help but be reminded of real-life figures who may have inspired the director to come up with the story. The connection between the lead character Kamal (played by Suriya) and composer AR Rahman is quite obvious. Here's how it goes. Kamal is a musician who believes he's made for the bigger stage, aims to win the Grammy Award and not confine his music to a specific region. It's apparent that his father is no longer alive and he composes jingles to make a living. That's when Kamal meets an upcoming singer Nethra who validates his credentials as a musician and the two fall head over heels in love with each other.


Interestingly, AR Rahman too had to fend for his family when his father, composer R K Shekhar passed away when the former was barely a teenager. The Academy Award-winning composer has time and again expressed in his interviews that he looked up to international icons like Micheal Jackson as much as the Indian legends in various forms of music during his early years. Many may also know the story of filmmaker Mani Ratnam's first meeting with AR Rahman before Roja. When Mani Ratnam heard an abstract piece by the composer, he had responded, 'it's nothing like what I have ever heard before.' Another coincidence with 'Guitar Kambi..' being, Rahman had carved his niche in the advertising industry for his jingles, much before his film debut. The story of the composer's global fame over his three-decade-long career, of course, doesn't need to be spelt out.

It feels like Gautham Menon may have been inspired by a few references and milestones in AR Rahman's life for the film and gave it an entirely fictional spin with the romance angle coming into play. However, the issue with the short film is that the protagonist's musical journey and his relationship with Nethra appear quite superficial. One neither gets to know the story of Kamal's ascent as a musician nor the breakup with Nethra. The filmmaker fills the 48-minute short with many predictable, flowery moments that barely tests his mettle. The one-liner of a plot would've been a cakewalk for the director, who's essentially been a 'romance specialist' throughout his career.

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