By SI Blog Reader Vinith
I watched Mani Ratnam’s Kadal yesterday in a nearly empty theater.
I’d like to believe the empty hall is a favorable omen.
Perhaps Tamil movie buffs are belatedly getting wiser to junk and no longer hesitant to to raise the middle finger to unrepentant directors.
Kadal is a lousy movie that ought not to have seen the light of the day.
Let me first talk about the story.
Kadal’s story is simple but not well thought out.
Bergmans (Arjun) is a bright and cheerful guy but he’s caught committing the sin of the flesh by Sam (Arvind Swamy) and expelled from the seminary.
Bergmans vows to settle scores with Sam and prove that evil reigns over good in the world.
I wonder why Bergmans would say that when he’s actually shown to be an intelligent and cheerful guy who keeps others in the seminary happy.
Meanwhile, a young boy named Thomas loses his mother, who was the paramour of a local fisherman played by Ponvannan. The young boy is rejected by the entire community after his mother’s death.
Sam arrives in the village as the new Father of the local church and soon takes the unruly and foul-mouthed Thomas under his aegis.
What happens after that forms the rest of the story.
This could well have been made into a nice film with a proper screenplay but, alas, the poor screenplay is Kadal’s biggest flaw.
Mani Ratnam fails to keep the momentum going.
After the first 20 minutes or so, Kadal falls flat on the ground and slips into rigor mortis for the remainder of its run-time.
On a Ganja Trip?
Much of what happens on the screen just doesn’t make any sense.
For example, Thomas who is initially rejected by the villagers, suddenly wins their acceptance.
Then, after a few scenes, he again becomes an outcast.
What the hell!
After Father Sam, the one person Thomas loves dearly, gets falsely accused of having sexual relation with two women (one of whom happens to be Bergmans’ lover), Thomas’ journey into a life of crime after joining hands with Bergmans (who’s become a feared smuggler) gets the same amateurish treatment.
But what I can’t understand is Why would Thomas join Bergmans when he knows very well that he was the one responsible for Sam’s travails?
Thulasi Nair play Beatrice, shortly called Bea, the estranged daughter of Bergmans and the love interest of Thomas.
While the romantic scenes involving the two youngsters aren’t bad, they are a distraction from the film’s main theme, and consume a lot of screen time.
Beatrice is shown to be a girl with the heart of a child but Mani Ratnam’s attempt to portray her innocence fails after a while and she ends up being a caricature.
For example, there’s a scene where Thomas confesses to Bea that he’s done a lot of wrong-doings, including murder.
I was left stunned by what happened next. The girl runs up to him, holds his hands, wipes them and says with a straight face.. ‘enime seiyaadha’.
Was Mani Ratnam high on Ganja during the making of Kadal? Somebody, please tell me he wasn’t!
There are several ‘WTF’ scenes in Kadal that make it absolutely hideous.
The climax fight scene on a fishing vessel is definitely the acme of nonsense, although the cinematography showing the raging waves and storm was appealing.
Thomas and Sam manage to subdue Bergmans who kidnapped Sam and Bea to finish them off. Bergmans throws Sam overboard. He climbs back up again. Bergmans throws Sam overboard. He climbs back in. Both of them throw Bergmans overboard but Thomas brings him back again and tells him he forgives him.
By that time, I was fed up with this unalloyed garbage and prayed to Father Sam, the Holy Father and all other Fathers for a quick end to my agony.
All of a sudden, the scene shifts to a mental hospital where we see Bea as a patient. How she ended up in the mental hospital from the fishing vessel is beyond my ken and that of all sane, sober, un-Ganjad minds.
For once, the acting was decent overall, by Tamil movie standards that is.
Arvind Swamy, Arjun, Gautham Karthik (whose dad Karthik can’t recognize acting even if it wallops him across the face) and, yes, even 15-year-old Thulasi Nair turned in decent performances.
Thulasi Nair is a much better actress than her older sister Karthika, although she becomes a caricature in a few scenes.
I blame Mani Ratnam’s clumsy attempts to portray her as a girl with an innocent and childish heart for this.
Gautham Karthik is also a far superior actor compared to his father.
As for the songs, I liked Elay Keechan and Nenjukulla, while Magudi was alright.
The picturization of Elay Keechan was nice, Nenjukulla was decent.
But the picturization of Adiye was horrendous. The song could well have been avoided.
Wait, the Anbin Vaasale song during the end credits also found favor with me.
Like with most Mani Ratnam films, the cinematography is appealing.
There are some nice moments in the film but they were few and far between. Certainly not enough to salvage the movie from the trash heap.
The minuses overwhelm the pluses in Kadal!
Mani Ratnam is an over-rated film maker and I can’t wait to see this bozo call it a day.
Kadal is a movie that should never have been inflicted on Tamil movie fans.