Review - Kadal Is Shallow!
by Bharath Vijayakumar
It has been more than a decade since Mani Rathnam directed a film only in Tamil. (Kannathil Muthamittal was the last). Most of his recent works have been bilinguals or in Hindi. There has been a popular perception that his recent movies have not made any big impact at the southern box office as he has been trying to satisfy the taste of audience form both sides of the Vindhyas. But he still has an enviable fan following, something that is rare for a technician in mainstream cinema where stars always seem bigger than the persons who make them. Will Kadal satisfy his fans?
Kadal once again takes up the ever existent battle of mankind – Good vs Evil. Despite being put through several hardships the goodness in us will always triumph the evil is what Kadal tries to emphasize. But has it been done successfully is a big question mark.
Though much attention was being given to the two debutant star kids Gautham Karthik and Thulasi , Kadal has a meaty part for both Arjun and Aravind Swamy. Arjun seems to have made good use of this rare opportunity to showcase his acting skills and he delivers big time. As the scheming villain he comes up with a sincere performance. Aravind Swamy who plays the priest is the perfect foil. This handsome hero who was once a heartthrob still retains his charm. One hopes he continues to be seen often on screen. Debutant Gautham seems to be camera friendly and has a decent screen presence. Thulasi the teenage girl also makes an impression. Her looks aren’t those of a regular heroine and you even get sort of irritated with her childish behaviour in the beginning. But there is a proper justification for this in the second half of the film.
The crew of Kadal comprises the cream of technicians from Indian Cinema – A.R. Rahman, Rajeev Menon and Sreekar Prasad. The songs by A.R.Rahman are a treat with Nenjukkule probably being the best of the lot. Its melody lingers in you even after leaving the auditorium. The calmness and ferocity of the ocean has been captured beautifully through Rajeev Menon’s lens. The climax particularly should have been a hard one to shoot.
What does not work?
The major dampener for Kadal seems to be its inability to draw you into the emotional tangle between the four primary characters. It all seems a bit superficial and you really do not invest yourself with any of them. The film starts off promisingly and the initial scenes in the Christian camp involving Arjun and Aravind Swamy warrant a mention. The film might have clicked better if Arjun’s character had shades of grey rather than being entirely black. The title and the initial promos of Kadal looked like it was going to be primarily a love story. But you will be disappointed big time if you go in expecting a romantic flick. The movie is a drama that keeps you engaged now and then.
Kadal has not lived up to its expectations, surely. Kadal does look good on the surface. But the characters in it re shallow and we really do not get into the depth of their emotions. The swim through ‘Kadal’ is quite long and tedious, particularly towards the end.