Mar 30 2017
Director Vijay Milton started off strong with Goli Soda, where he showed us that a strong script and interesting characters can easily overcome a movie’s lack of star power to create a rousing experience. But he forgot all that as the lure of a big star vehicle and a big budget led him to make the terrible 10 Endrathukulla. Thankfully he has learned the lesson well and with Kadugu, makes a confident return to the kind of movie Goli Soda was – an intimate, character-driven film with solid characters and an interesting storyline.
‘Puli’ Pandi(Rajakumaran), a puli vesham artist, does odd jobs for the inspector(Venkatesh) at the police station. Pandi is so good that it feels like he was transplanted from a Vikraman movie. He gets an awkward introduction with a dialog designed to showcase his good heart(he will not do something bad even when no one’s looking) but he does grow on us as he does some good deeds in secret(it is never clear though where he gets the money to give away 50 Rupees or buy a brand new pair of Bata sneakers). Rajakumaran, Devayani’s husband and the butt of numerous jokes when his Thirumathi Thamizh stills were released, is a surprising choice for the role but it works.
Nambi(Bharath, finally finding a good role) is introduced as another do-gooder. But unlike Pandi, he is painted with shades of gray as the film progresses. Some of his actions come as good surprises and drive the story forward but though the motivations behind his changes are strong, the transformations themselves feel a little too quick and abrupt.
The film proceeds with a light tone initially and is peppered with funny lines from many different characters(an example is Nambi’s grandma with her focus on everyone being fed. She gets a strong punchline at the end too). The comedy with Pandi’s facebook friendship with Evi(Radhika Prasidhha, again playing a teacher) gets a bit loud but it doesn’t go on for too long and gives the opportunity for an in-joke about Rajakumaran. Anirudh(Bharath Seeni), another helper at the police station(his backstory is funnier than Pandi’s), also gets a few laughs with his one-sided love for Maga(Subiksha). There are some sharp social observations too(like how social media has made everyone find their voice, valid or not), mostly from Pandi, but they don’t destroy the film’s tone.
The way Anirudh’s efforts to impress Maga go wrong with Nambi benefiting from them are natural and it initially looks like a way of setting up the movie’s real romance. But we actually get hints about Nambi’s character from these incidents, which gradually leads to the film’s main conflict. The suffering of the girl caught in the middle of it is captured well and the way the different characters react to the incident drives the rest of the film as some of them try to protect her, some run away and others take things into their own hands. Eventually Pandi’s goodness drives his actions and makes us root for him in the slightly over-the-top but still rousing climactic fight.
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