Some 25 minutes into Naan Kadavul, we cried out in helpless agony – Kadavule Kapathu (God, please help us).
But the almighty Kadavul did not deign to respond to our cry for mercy because it was beyond even his powers to salvage this movie.
Disappointing, Very Disappointing
There were all of six people for the opening 3:30PM show of Naan Kadavul at Movie City in Edison (New Jersey) on Friday.
And four of them did not like it.
Folks, Naan Kadavul does not provide any respite from the tsunami of bad Tamil movies.
The principal culprit of Naan Kadavul is a most disjointed story that screams amateur.
Naan Kadavul comes across as a mediocre documentary about the sorry plight of beggars in Malaykoil village in Southern Tamil Nadu interspersed with the weird antics of a pot-smoking Aghori Sadhu Rudra (Arya) from Kasi.
Since Naan Kadavul director Bala also takes credit for the story and screenplay, he’s the arch-villain of the piece.
The movie starts off with a father (accompanied by his young daughter) coming to the holy city of Kasi in search of a son he abandoned 14 years earlier in the holy city because several astrologers had warned him about the young boy being a bad omen.
Soon, the son Rudran – now a young, weird-looking Aghori Sadhu in black dress with long hair, a heavy beard and mustache – is located on the banks of the Ganges.
And father, son and daughter are on the train back to good ol’ Tamil Nadu.
No sir, they do not live happily ever after.
The young man continues his strange practices of prayer and Ganja smoking at home and not even all the plaintive wails of his mother will melt his stony heart.
Rudran is both of this world and not of this world.
Before long, he’s left his new home and ensconced himself in a nearby temple where he’s seen smoking pot and chanting Aham Brahmasmi much to the fear of other priests and the distress of his family, who want him to return home.
Even before Rudran has reached home, we’re introduced to the cruel Thandavan, the owner of a motley bunch of maimed and grotesque beggars. Through merciless whippings, Thandavan (with the help of his henchman Murugan and and the local police) puts these decrepit creatures, the flotsam and jetsam of Indian society, to beg outside the temple and on occasion even sells them to other beasts like himself.
A lot of screen time is devoted to depicting the sorry plight of beggars and Thandavan’s ruthlessness shown in various ways including in the kidnapping of a blind girl (Pooja) with a melodious singing voice.
A glaring weakness of Naan Kadavul is that the stories of Rudran and that of the beggars run on two parallel tracks with few intersecting points.
It seems as if Bala just couldn’t develop the plot of Rudran any further after he gets him home from Kasi and in desperation conjures up this tale of beggars.
No, Bala. You are not fooling anyone with this silly ploy. Equally silly is Rudran’s behavior in court or the policemen sucking up to him.
For those who complain that Danny Boyle has highlighted only the dark underbelly of urban India in Slumdog Millionaire, the picture that Bala paints in Naan Kadavul of the grotesque beggars and their inhuman treatment is a far severe indictment of Indian society.
There’s not much to complain on the acting front although Arya tends to overact.
Pooja does a decent job as the blind girl Hamsavalli. By the way, the young girl who plays Arya’s sister does an amazing job in the brief time allotted to her.
After receiving a brutal beating at the hands of Thandavan toward the end of the movie, Hamsavalli’s distressed wails before Rudran constitute some of the most poignant scenes we’ve witnessed in a Tamil movie in a long time.
As for the music, we doubt any of the songs will resonate even for a few weeks.
All in all, Naan Kadavul is a deeply flawed movie that’s worth neither your precious money nor your valuable time.
UK Tamils Show Middle Finger to Bala’s Naan Kadavul