KADAL Visitor REVIEW
by Kannan Vijayakumar (Singapore)
In a time where debut directors are experimenting with different styles and themes, there is always a great demand for one man who led the charge for couple of decades lending freshness in Tamil cinema. Mani Ratnam is back again finally with a straight Tamil film, Kadal. Touted to be a romantic drama, Kadal not only boasts the comeback of 90s heartthrob Arvind Samy but also marks the entry of two veteran actors’ (Karthik & Radha) children, Gautham Karthik and Thulasi Nair.
Story & Screenplay
Mani Ratnam famous for creating successful mainstream classics has fumbled this time as a storyteller. His films are best known for the emotional connection he makes through his unique story telling. However,Kadal misses it's mark in connecting with the audience due to lack of consistency in the narration. The film’s main plot focuses on the theme of good vs evil and it often gets associated with the legacy of Satan Vs Jesus. The intention of the director to cleverly put this theme on the backdrop of Christianity is noteworthy. But, the failure to keep that momentum makes Kadal fall flat by the time it reaches the second half. The struggle of choosing between the good and evil is a nice idea but Gautham joining Arjun at the interval mark, seriously looks forced. The characterizations are also left half sketched.
On the bright side, Kadal does have the typical feel good factor found in Mani Ratnam’s films, especially in the second half. The romantic sequences are very well bought out with the climax displaying little bit of brilliance of the director. Realistic, sharp dialogues by Jayamohan are also a big plus to the film as it bring out the coastal nativity convincingly. In overall, even though Mani sets up an interesting knot, languorous pace and wandering screenplay lets Kadal down.
Casting & Performance
Casting is probably the best aspect of Kadal in where each and every one of them competes with one another to come up with good performances. Certainly, the seniors Arjun and Arvind Swamy top the list. Right from the trailer, one could sense that Arjun going to rock in this film and he doesn't disappoint with such a menacing persona. Even at the flash backs he shows a certain degree of versatility. Arvind Swamy on the other hand, makes a sensational comeback! He almost carries the film on his shoulder with his downplayed, soft body language. It won’t be a surprise if we see him again in many films after Kadal.
Gautham gives such a seasoned performance in Kadal. His screen presence and the way he have carried him self is remarkable. Especially in the climax his rendition will create a lump in the throat. Thulasi , with a limited role, sparkles with good level of confidence. We would love to see more of her in her next film. Other cast members, Lakshmi Manchu and Ponvanan, also make a decent portrayal.
Needless to say Kadal also comes with good technical finesse. Cinematographer, Rajiv Menon’s earthy tones give the village a realistic look. Especially in the climax, it would have taken immense hard work to crank the scene. For a backdrop like this, he could have easily chosen to overshadow the film but he plays subtle. Art director, Shashidar Adappa’s accuracy to bring the coastal life on screen is praiseworthy.
Mani Ratnam’s editor Sreekar Prasad sets the slow pace from the start to finish. However, the slow speed intended to draw the emotions deeper, fails unfortunately. A.R.Rahman always saves his special best for Mani’s film with all his songs aimed at international reach. The visualization of the songs are also well placed and shot.
Even though, Mani Ratnam’s Kadal boasts with good performance and excellent technical finesse, it suffers from a shockingly meandering screenplay.
Verdict: Half-Baked attempt in providing a classic!