Kadal Review – Was Mani Ratnam on Ganja?

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.

Awful Film

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.

Decent Acting

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.

Bottom Line

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.

29 Responses to "Kadal Review – Was Mani Ratnam on Ganja?"

  1. Vinith   February 8, 2013 at 4:57 am

    It would be unfair if I claim all the credit for this review.

    You deserve credit for making the finishing touches.

    Btw, I forgot about two things.

    1) I really loved the song during the end credits.. Anbin Vaasale.

    2) After he was subdued by the two, Bergmans reveals that he couldn’t bring himself to kill his own daughter (we are shown his attempts and left to assume she’s dead before he reveals the truth) and that he lost the battle to Sam, admitting that Good does reigns over evil.

    But what happened to Bergmans after that is never revealed. The scene abruptly shifts to the mental hospital.

    Btw, is it alright if I remember some things later and come back and add those as well?

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    I’ve added your point about the Anbin Vaasale song to the review.

    Thanks for the review! 🙂

    Sure, you can add anything if you think it’s important.

  2. Vinith   February 8, 2013 at 5:02 am

    I have the DVD of Pizza and Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom.

    Want me to review those two as well?

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Aren’t they history now?

    • Vinith   February 8, 2013 at 5:19 am

      “Aren’t they history now?”

      Well, yes they are.

      But since you’ve been reviewing older movies like Tik tik tik, I just thought of asking as these are just about 3 or 4 months old.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      I reviewed a bunch of old Kamal films because of the hype and interest in Vishwaroopam!

      • shadowfax_arbit   February 8, 2013 at 11:57 am

        Nice review!

        I never thought it was a review by a reader until I read the comments.

        Pretty much SIish style review.

        Pizza review would not be a bad idea I guess. It was an extremely well made movie. Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom is not great and doesn’t deserve a review that too after 4 months…

        SearchIndia.com Responds:

        Looks like Kadal has been washed away…just one daily show this week for the Tamil version at Anil Ambani’s MovieShitty in Edison, NJ. That’s the main theatre for Tamil movies in New Jersey.


    • boopalanj   February 8, 2013 at 8:28 am

      DVD? SI is against piracy 😉

  3. boopalanj   February 8, 2013 at 5:27 am

    Some people seemed to have filed a complaint about Kadal – saying it equally portrays God-sent-angel and the devil, and that it had hurt Christian sentiments.

    I strongly urge government to use this opportunity and ban the film 😉

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Since it was a home production (Madras Talkies), Mani Ratnam must have lost his jetty (underwear) given the fate of this film.

    • Vinith   February 8, 2013 at 8:41 am

      “Some people seemed to have filed a complaint about Kadal – saying it equally portrays God-sent-angel and the devil, and that it had hurt Christian sentiments.”

      As far as I can remember, there was nothing in the movie that offends Christianity or Christians. Or is it because the antagonist is a Christian?

      If that’s the case, I wonder who or what Satan is?

      The only thing the movie offends are your senses.

      But whatever the case, I certainly agree that the ADMK Govt. should have jumped on it and banned the movie 😉

      • boopalanj   February 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm

        If you wonder who Satan is, it is undoubtedly Mani Ratnam 😉

    • Naveen   February 8, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Sam? Thomas? Beatrice? Bergmans? semma peter padam! 😀

      Who knows what audience was he was targeting with his Deivam – Saathan stuff!!

      Karthik, Radha and some Christian mission would have funded this movie!

      Mani Ratnam has lost his marbles!

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if some Christian missionaries had “sunk” money into this venture as part of their proselytizing nonsense!

      They love nothing better than the sound of Paul, Peter, Thomas, Beatrice, Mary etc.

      • venbas   February 13, 2013 at 7:31 am

        Any Tamil with half a brain would have stayed miles away from Theatres showing ‘kadal’ after the monstrosity a.k.a Ravanan from Maniratnam in his previous venture. Maniratnam thinks that he is more intelligent than Steven Spielberg or Cameroon put together…I would rather tolerate Sombhu Kombhu or Payasam anyday over this fellow…

        SearchIndia.com Responds:

        I’m starting the rumor that Kamal Haasan is using the profits from Vishwaroopam 1 to bail out his relative Mani Ratnam by asking him to direct Vishwaroopam 2 a.k.a. Moo.

    • venbas   February 13, 2013 at 7:39 am

      Its not Mani who lost Money…the poor Distributors who paid hefty sums for this $hit lost money instead.

      Recently saw some news on TV about group of Distributors from North Tamil Nadu being driven out of Mani Ratnam’s office where they had gathered to demand compensation from Mani Ratnam due to poor audience response to the movie!!!

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      When Tamils see clowns like Ajith, Kajal Aggarwal, Tamanah etc making money from Tamil Movies, they think WHY NOT ME? 😉

  4. Madmax673   February 8, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Thank You for the review.

    You say, the final fight scene was an acme of nonsense.

    Are you kidding me?

    Seriously…I saw a review that the ‘particular’ scene surpassed ‘Life of Pi’. 🙂

    I think actor Karthik rarely been handed a good script. Pls. watch ‘Gokulathil Seethai’. I even own a copy of it purely for his effortless performance.

    At times I critically wonder what if Kamal Haasan or any other ‘so called’ good actor had been asked to portray that particular role.

    They would’ve puked all over the screen. I think it is one of those ‘rare’ Tamil movies that really deserves SI review.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Looks like Netflix is down, I can’t even check if they carry Gokulathil Seethai.

    • Vinith   February 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      @ Madmax673 “Seriously…I saw a review that the ‘particular’ scene surpassed ‘Life of Pi’”

      Now, that’s a co-incidence. Even I was reminded of Life of Pi.

      While the scene was visually appealing, there’s absolutely no comparison to Life of Pi.

      “I think actor Karthik rarely been handed a good script. Pls. watch ‘Gokulathil Seethai’. I even own a copy of it purely for his effortless performance. ”

      Never even heard of Gokulathil Seethai. But in the movies I’ve seen starring Karthik, he was horrible. While a poor script would let actors down, you can’t keep blaming the script every time.

      What would you say if I told you Abhishek Bachan’s acting is horrible because he’s not given a good script?

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      1. Gokulathil Seethaihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gokulathil_Seethai

      2. Amitabh bachchan blamed poor editing for that dolt Abhishek’s poor performance in Raavan! – http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-06-22/news-interviews/28298165_1_editing-inconsistent-performance-and-narrative-raavan

      • Madmax673   February 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm

        Vinith: What would you say if I told you Abhishek Bachan’s acting is horrible because he’s not given a good script?

        I’ve never seen an Abhishek movie except his pathetic photo still in Raavan. So no comments.

        Vinith: Never even heard of ‘Gokulathil Seethai’.

        I don’t blame ya. That was released around the time when two big Kamal Haasan movies “Indian” and “Avvai Shanmugi” were released and making big waves. Also, it wasn’t marketed too much due to FEFSI strike. But still, ‘Gokulathil Seethai’ released without too much hype and went on to become a sleeper hit. It’s funny that even the synopsis of the original version isn’t accurately presented in wiki. Just noticed that the Telugu version launched Pawan Kalyan’s career. Not surprised at all.

        Vinith: But in the movies I’ve seen starring Karthik, he was horrible.

        I’d also recommend you watch ‘Varusham Padhinaaru’, if you’re interested.

        SearchIndia.com Responds:

        You write: It’s funny that even the synopsis of the original version isn’t accurately presented in wiki.

        You can modify the Wiki synopsis to more accurately reflect the movie.

        After all, isn’t that what Wiki is all about – collective wisdom working to make Wikipedia content better!

        • Madmax673   February 8, 2013 at 5:54 pm

          That’s true, isn’t it!? Never struck me.

          Thanks for the enlightenment! 😉

          I’ll watch it once again tonight and I’ll see if I can modify it. Wonder how many would read it!?

          Look what I’ve gotten myself into 😀

        • shadowfax_arbit   February 9, 2013 at 1:18 pm

          @ Vinith >> Never even heard of Gokulathil Seethai.

          Are you serious? I remember watching this movie in theatre when I was young and I remember it was a hit too.

          Everyone spoke about Karthik’s sensational performance and it was one of his best roles ever….

          He dazzled in Mounaragam as well!

          • Vinith   February 9, 2013 at 10:16 pm


            “Are you serious? I remember watching this movie in theatre when I was young and I remember it was a hit too. ”

            Yes, I am. I’ve never heard of it until now. I did like some of his movies when I was young but that was a time when I didn’t know the difference between class and crass.

            “He dazzled in Mounaragam as well!”

            I remember I liked the movie very much but it’s been years since I’ve seen the movie and I don’t remember much about the movie except for Illayaraja’s fine music.

            Maybe I’ll watch it again soon.

        • Vinith   February 9, 2013 at 10:25 pm

          “I’ve never seen an Abhishek movie except his pathetic photo still in Raavan. So no comments. ”

          Consider yourself blessed 😉

          “That was released around the time when two big Kamal Haasan movies “Indian” and “Avvai Shanmugi”….”

          Remember watching Avvai Shanmugi in the theater. It was a laugh riot that time. It was only many years later that I got enlightened. Avvai Shanmugi is a pathetic rip off of Mrs. Doubtfire.

        • Madmax673   February 10, 2013 at 10:58 pm

          Modified and posted the ‘Gokulathil Seethai’ synopsis.

          SearchIndia.com Responds:

          Wow! I’m impressed. 🙂

          I’ve just started watching Gokulathil Seethai to see if the movie is really worth the hosannas you heap on it!

          The entire movie is on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMTDrAyLwsQ

          I’m wondering which one of the commenters in the YouTube video is you – “kingmaker king”? 😉

          This could well be my first Karthik movie!

          • Vinith   February 11, 2013 at 1:31 am


            Read a few lines of the synopsis. Impressive indeed.


            I thought you never watch movies online.

            Btw, I would suggest you watch Rhythm too. It’s on the list of suggestions to the right in the link you provided.

            Maybe you would like it or maybe not. But it’s quite different from the run-of-the-mill Tamil movies.

            SearchIndia.com Responds:

            Just finished watching Gokulathil Seethai

            SI must be the only person to watch a 17-year-old Tamil movie that few have heard of at 2:57AM. 😉

            BTW, the movie is on YouTube, uploaded by the copyrights owner Pyramid Network for viewing outside India.

          • Vinith   February 11, 2013 at 3:51 am

            Yes, and they’ve also uploaded few other movies too.

            So, how was the movie?

            Planning to review it?

            SearchIndia.com Responds:

            Yes, wait for the review! 😉

          • Vinith   February 11, 2013 at 4:00 am

            Whether I watch the movie or not depends on your review.

            I’m waiting. 😉

            SearchIndia.com Responds:

            Forcing SI to pen a review of a 17-year-old Tamil film at 4:01AM ET is exploitation of the First World citizens by the Third World denizens. 😉

          • Vinith   February 11, 2013 at 4:21 am

            That was a good one.

            You can take your own time. You can also listen to this heavenly melody in the meantime.


            SearchIndia.com Responds:

            Isn’t that from Nayagan? Your Video has it wrong as Tik Tik Tik!

          • Vinith   February 11, 2013 at 4:46 am

            Yeah, it’s from Nayagan.

            I don’t how on earth they got the title wrong.

          • Madmax673   February 11, 2013 at 12:24 pm

            That was very fast response. Thanks;)

            Didn’t really expect you to watch the movie in the middle of the night. Sorry if you felt exploited 😀

            It was same time here as well when I posted synopsis in wiki and went straight to bed. ET.

            Nah, I’ve never appeared in you tube video. Will check out who “Kingmaker King” is.

  5. Naveen   February 8, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Pls check email

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Yes, to the question in your e-mail. Please go ahead.

    I was watching Seven Psychopaths (Colin Farrell) DVD from RedBox and didn’t check the blog or e-mail for a while.

    Hence the delay in responding!

    • Vinith   February 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm


      Liked the movie?

      Colin Farrell is a good actor IMO.

      Btw, is the Kurudhipunal review coming?

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      1. Seven Psychopaths is a decent movie.

      Directed by Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths is one of those Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino kind of movies.

      Lot of violence, black comedy, weird characters, outlandish story!

      For a free DVD (RedBox Instant promotion), I’m not complaining.

      2. Kurudhipunal Review? Maybe.

      Kurudhipunal makes a mockery of the whole infiltration exercise and takes it to ridiculous heights.

      The problem here is the story. Gauthami was a cutie those days! 😉

      • Vinith   February 11, 2013 at 10:46 pm

        “Kurudhipunal makes a mockery of the whole infiltration exercise and takes it to ridiculous heights”

        Why, what’s wrong?

        It’s been a long time since I watched it. I only remember both the main characters dying.

        SearchIndia.com Responds:

        You write: Why, what’s wrong?

        Because infiltration does not mean sacrifice of your top police/intelligence leadership.

  6. boopalanj   February 10, 2013 at 11:39 am


    Have you noticed that people (readers) often get influenced by your way of talking / replying in a conversation here?

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    I think people (at least, some of them) like an original voice with emotion in it, not the shriveled junk you see in most newspaper sites.

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