Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

A Peck on the Cheek 2002

Kannathil Muthamittal

Directed by Mani Ratnam

India In English, Sinhalese and Tamil with English subtitles
134 minutes



Mani Ratnam
G. Srinivasan


Mani Ratnam


Ravi K. Chandran


A. Sreekar Prasad


A.R. Rahman


Madhavan (Thiri)
Simran (Indra)
Nandita Das (Shyarma)
Chakravarthy (Dileepan)
Keerthana (Amudha)


Toronto, Vancouver 2002; Sydney 2003


Popping with colour, whizzing by with a dramatic flair so confident that it seems inexorable, A Peck on the Cheek is a hugely enjoyable blend of Bollywood uplift and antiwar art movie. A production of great technical sophistication and epic expense, it’s also disarmingly intimate, dwelling adoringly on some of the most luciously expressive faces you could ever wish to see. While battle rages, cameras glide and the music sweeps through the surrounds, the true drama lies in a longing glance, a pout, a tender smile, the twinkle of an eye. Who’d have thought that being swept up by so much opulence and stellar emoting could prove so refreshing? There’s a beautiful, willful child at the heart of this extravaganza, and Ratnam’s expert apprehension of the larger-than-life makes gob-smacked children of us all. — BG 

"A Peck on the Cheek finds Bollywood maverick Mani Ratnam at his genre-twisting finest, fusing sing-along musical sequences and giddy melodrama together with real-life political struggles to create the equivalent of Rodgers and Hammerstein serenading the Tamil Tigers, or Shirley Temple with a pipe bomb. In films like Bombay and Roja, the Madras-based Ratnam successfully infiltrated the song-and-dance spectaculars of Bollywood with highly politicized subjects and the formalized beauty of arthouse film; with A Peck on the Cheek he pushes his obsessions with music, politics and children to an extreme unlike anything cinema has seen. Two Sri Lankans find their honeymoon shattered by a military invasion, and must put their just-born daughter up for adoption. Nine years later, the daughter, adopted by a loving Indian writer and his wife, learns of her past, and together with her new family returns to a strife-torn Sri Lanka, and to a mother now engaged in armed revolution. Several musical high points – all colorful whirls of dancing children, ecstatic camerawork, rainstorms and A.R. Rahman’s catchy songs – coalesce with lovable family melodrama, tense political moments, a brilliantly filmed battle scene and some timely, heartfelt antiwar dialogues that underline Ratnam’s singular crossroads of thoughtful humanism, political engagement and old-fashioned, over-the-top entertainment." — Jason Sanders, San Francisco International Film Festival 2003