Alright, after close to 18 months in the making, legendary director Mani Ratnam’s Kadal finally released in Tamil and Telugu worldwide this Friday and I was one among the many to grab the first day first show tickets! After the huge hype surrounding Kadal, little can go wrong when geniuses like Mani Ratnam, Rajiv Menon, AR Rahman and Vairamuthu are holding the boat steady to the debut star kids Gautam and Tulasi.
But were they successful? Let’s see…
Gautham Karthik, Thulasi Nair, Arjun, Arvind Swamy, Ponvannan, Lakshmi Manchu
Cinematography: Rajiv Menon ; Editing: A. Sreekar Prasad ; Choreography: Brinda
Music Arranged and Composed by AR Rahman
Lyrics by Vairamuthu and Madan Kaarky
Story, Screenplay, Written, Direction
Story, Screenplay: Jayamohan & Mani Ratnam
Direction: Mani Ratnam
Arvind and Arjun are two people who are part of the church brotherhood. Both have contrasting personalities where Arvind is dedicated to god while Arjun is just fun and frolic. During their stay, Arvind catches Arjun red handed having an illegal physical relationship with a woman who works in the church. Arjun begs for forgiveness but Arvind nevertheless goes ahead. This sows the seed for the hatred between the two with Arjun promising revenge at all costs.
Then there is a seaside village where a prostitute dies and her little child still thinking his mother to be sleeping hugs her until Ponvannan visits and comes to know that she is already dead. Then it’s revealed that the boy is the illegitimate son of Ponvannan. The child gets rejected by every single person in the village which only provokes the kid to start revolting as he grows.
When he is 12 years of age he comes across Arvind who has recently moved into the nearby church to preach. He notices the boy, names him Thomas and shows him a direction in his life until he meets the two people who will change the very course of his identity – Arjun and Thulasi.
The fight between good and evil forms the crux of the story and who would ultimately wins over Thomas with a twist in the end.
Now, let me come to my review of this movie. Kadal is a classic example of how even when a great director like Mani Ratnam, one of the best cinematographers in Asia – Rajiv Menon, and music by the Mozart of Madras – AR Rahman cannot save a movie if it’s got a weak storyline, mishandled screenplay and pathetic editing.
None of the characters actually make an impact on the audience and it’s really a tried and tested format of good winning over evil in a slow snail paced narration. Arjun keeps uttering that he is the Satan but hardly there are no justifying violence shown to the viewer to create an impact that he is a deadly menace which needs to be eradicated and the motive that Arjun mentions is too slim for a revenge of this order. But there are times a viewer will surely feel that there is too much amount of preaching in the name of God than real action on screen.
What is Thulasi doing in this movie? To be blunt, she is an enhanced fully grown version of Anjali. This being her first movie, she has certainly done a good job but not enough space to impress upon. For a second you find Laxmi Manchu out of the blue and in a split moment she is gone. In fact dead! Her character is more like an induced one just to create a turn on events when the story was going nowhere. And finally there is Gautam Karthik. Though this is his first movie, he has done a commendable job. This will perhaps kick start his career as a promising young actor but he needs to work more on the emotional scenes.
There are some very good scenes in Kadal which makes you to expect that something big is going to happen next but sadly all of them occur in the first 40 minutes and then on the movie unable to find a shore to land, sinks into the ocean without a trace.
- First 40 minutes of the movie is brilliant. No doubt about it.
- Arvind, who has come out of his hiatus, provides a calming effect on screen.
- A good amount of research on fishermen has gone into the making of this movie and it’s really a commendable job.
- Arjun’s character is not constructed properly to deliver the goods
- Too many characters and lack of attachment to any of them.
- Too slow narration and bad 2nd half
- Why was Laxmi Machu there in the movie? Only God knows!
- Editing by Sreekar Prasad
I was one of the many who was absolutely thrilled looking at the rushes of the movie but sometimes as in the case of many movies the story drops flat with so many loop holes. The editing is by far the most questionable thing in this movie along with the screenplay. For a person of Sreekar Prasad’s stature, we expect sleek and crisp editing but he fails this time badly. Then there is screenplay by Jayamohan and Mani Ratnam which has horribly gone wrong. Laxmi Manchu and Arjun are a classic example of bad characterization.
The visuals are brilliant and the scenes involving the violent seas, song sequences and many more keeps you mesmerizing that there are places in India that are way too beautiful that can give a stiff run to our Western counterparts! Rajiv Menon should really be lauded for this brilliant canvas.
Mani Ratnam is an intelligent director and there should absolutely be no second thoughts on this. Every director has his own share of hits and misses and this movie sadly will be part of his misses!
Music and Background Score
BTW, the BGM is by far the only thing that floats in this colossal confusion called Kadal. AR Rahman stands tall amidst the ruins and he has done a great job with his BGM and it’s his music alone that carries the snail paced movie forward. I had discussed the album and its songs in my exhaustive review here.
Overall this is not a movie you will like if you had sky high expectations. This is neither a remake of Thalapathy nor a love story on the lines of Alaipayuthey. It’s a very ordinary story with clichéd characters set in a different zone with a screenplay full of loopholes and a weak story.
By the time you get out of the theatre hardly no one has a significant impact on you and you might be left guessing if you had really come to a Mani Ratnam film. This movie is a classic example of how high expectations and weak screenplay can become a greater reason for the movie’s downfall.
Kadal: A beautiful shallow beach with no corals…
My Rating: 2.5/5