Kavaludaari - An investigative drama that is rewarding!
Hemanth M Rao's second directorial Kavaludaari is primarily an investigative thriller that starts like a whodunit but doesn't just stop with revealing the killer, as it also sort of ventures into the good vs evil battle. A murder happens in 1977 and cut to the present we have a traffic policeman who is more inclined towards solving crimes. When remains of a corpse surfaces in his area of control, he begins to investigate and it leads him to an unresolved case that was closed more than 40 years back.
Hemanth is in no mood to rush as he paces his movie deliberately in a manner that gives you time to get a hold of his characters. This ensures a rewarding finale when all the layers are revealed and the characters face the repercussions of their actions. The film operates in the middle-road as it has both - the unrushed feel of arthouse cinema and the slightly heroic representation of its leading men Ananth Nag and Rishi. Hemanth employs intercuts and freeze-frames when we have Rishi visualising the happenings through the case records but he is also particular that none of this is flashy. The entire vibe is that of watching a realistic cinema set in a mainstream/masala universe. The cinematography, music and stunts are exactly in sync with this mode as well.
Rishi is very good as the morally upright Shyam. Ananth Nag gets it right as the struggling and wounded person getting another chance to see purpose in his life. But for me it was Achyuth Kumar who stands out. As the guy who is always on the run and having a suspicious aura around him, he is very good. It is the sketching of the villain and his over the top performance that is a dampener. This actually brings down the film by a few notches. What is supposed to be a cunning and scheming character sort of becomes a caricature.
The writing is very good and more than the reveal of the villain, the arc of the supporting characters, their role in the actual crime and how it all connects in the end is neatly done. The Suman Ranganathan episode is not very convincing though.
A neatly made investigative drama that packs in a lot but also leaves out a bit. But a rewarding watch nevertheless.