A Manirathnam Film - the three words are more than enough to send the entire theatre thundering with applause and whistle, but a credit will not make the audience sit for the next 150 minutes, To be precise, 'Kadal' has its punch for the first 20 minutes of prologue with a couple of segments involving the conflict between Seminary brothers Sam (Aravind Swamy) and Bergsman (Arjun) while the other one is a young innocent boy Thoma aka Thomas, who has lost his mother. Manirathnam and writer Jayamohan establish it clearly that plot within the first few minutes that it is about the life of an innocent soul on the cliff between Good and Evil.
When brother Sam divulges the illicit behavior of his companion Bergsman, he is thrown out of the seminary. Unable to bear this humiliation, Bergsman places a challenge that one day he would settle scores with Sam. What follows next is a drama of emotions that revolves around three characters.
It's a wafer-thin storyline and there isn't much to prolong with the synopsis. To start off with the analysis, it's Gautham Karthik emotes fabulously to every situation in the film. Undoubtedly, he could be the next 'Navarasa Nayagan', the young chap possesses the traits of his father's acting panache. The actor leaves you speechless at many places, especially in these following situations
1. When his baptism is denied
2. Behaving fiercely with the folksmen over the arrest of Father Sam.
3. Death of his father
For the first few minutes after the introduction of Thulasi, you might feel she is trying to get projected innocuously, but the complete perception changes, when Kalairani reveals about her childhood problems and underdeveloped mind. Watch out for her performance with a childlike behavior and reactions to Gautam when he says, 'I have sinned a lot', to which she connects it with other instances like 'Stealthily is coming out of her institution' and 'stealing sugar'. The most captivating performance is when Gautham keeps relentlessly confessing his sins only to hear her say 'Fine! Don't do it again', which gets us frozen and Gautam Karthik not alone. Incisively, nothing beats the performance of Arjun and Aravind Swamy. Right from the beginning till the end, they keep up their versatile show, but they standout extremely well during the initial portions. Lakshmi Manchu appears not more than a couple of scenes, but Jayamohan's dialogues make her characteristically powerful. But why rope in a well known actress in just couple of scenes? Is it to gain the interest of Telugu audience as a promotional factor?
Manirathnam seems to have confused himself over crafting the story. It looks like like a collage of Pedro Almodovar's Spanish drama 'Bad Education' and Bharathiraja's 'Alaigal Oyvadhillai'. His intentions are not clear here and what is trying to convey. If Sam is projected a symbol of peace, love and angel of God, he should have retained the nature. But his character becomes feeble during the climax fight and Manirathnam should have looked into it. Having come up with a strong beginning, the narration becomes sluggish and vague. Well, if Kadal had a strong reason to turn the spotlights on prior to release, it was the spellbinding songs by AR Rahman. But it's a dissatisfactory work by Manirathnam as the placement of the songs are completely dim, except 'Magudi Magudi' that sends us high on excitements during the opening credits. 'Nenjukule' and 'Anbin Vaasale' have been completely wasted and choreography for 'Adiye' is splendid. Rajeev Menon has used lots of filters and grading to showcase the richness and it's not a laudable show while editing is perfect.
On the whole, 'Kadal' might have a strong plot of a youngster wedged between good and evil along with promising performance, but overall, it doesn't keep the audience engrossed till the end.
Verdict: Manirathnam's trademark goes missing
Review by Richard Mahesh
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