Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid
Note: This post contains spoilers and full story of Kadal.
I heard reviews of Kadal before I saw the movie. All reviews unanimously said that the movie was a big bore and that it lacked script and screenplay. They said that it didn’t have the Mani Ratnam stamp and that they couldn’t understand it. The movie was out of the theatres in a matter of days. I was disappointed. But I decided to see it anyway. I saw it and I liked it.
The movie starts off in a seminary where Arjun (Bergmans) and Arvind Swamy (Sam Fernando) are studying to become priests. Bergmans becomes incolved in an affair and Sam – the nice guy that he is – informs the authorities of the incident despite Bergmans’ entreaties. Bergmans is expelled from the seminary as he refuses to apologize. Gautam Karthik (Thomas) is the son of a woman who takes to prostitution to save her family. She dies and Ponvannan (Chetty Barnabas) buries her. She had also informed Thomas that Chetty is his father. The scene where young Thomas puts sand in the grave to bury his mother is touching. The tape recording scenes by Sam and subsequent belief of the villagers in the Church and God is innovative. Typical Mani stamp!
Thomas – insulted by everyone in the village – grows up to be a rowdy until he is taken in by Sam who comes as a priest to the village. He grows into a typical villager in a fisherman’s cove. He expresses his desire to be baptized and gives Chetty as his father’s name. Chetty openly denies it and insults Thomas in front of the whole village.
Bergmans returns to the scene injured with a bullet. Sam saves him and hides him in a boat. Bergmans says that he wants to see Jerina who lives in a village. He says it will lead him to salvation. Sam brings Jerina to Bergmans with the help of a local lady. Jerina is a prostitute and she says that Bergmans asked for her hand in marriage. Bergmans escapes from the ship when people can see that Sam is with Jerina. When people question Jerina, she says that she is in an affair with Sam. Sam is imprisoned, exposing Bergmans’ plot.
Thomas is desolate and is taken up by Bergmans. He teaches him the trade and Thomas commits all sins – smuggles, commits murder, etc. Bergmans was taken up by a wealthy man in his youth after he left the seminary and had a child with his wife. Then he murdered both the man and his wife and sent the child (Thulasi Nair – Beatrice) to live in a convent.
Thomas comes across Beatrice (who is a nurse) and develops love towards her. The scene where he helps deliver a child and the subsequent conversation he has with his friend is brilliant. His friend thinks that it is blood from having committed a murder and Thomas asks him “Kolai panna dhaan ratham varuma”. His friend enquires as whose blood is it and Thomas says “Idhu yesu oda ratham”. Mani stamp again!
These incidents change Thomas and he wants to marry Beatrice. He introduces Beatrice to Sam and he asks Thomas to go ask her parents for her hand. Thomas takes Beatrice to Bergman’s house where it is revealed that she had seen Bergmans kill her mother. In the tussle that ensues, Bergmans takes Beatrice into a ship and says he has killed her. Sam and Thomas try to kill Bergmans and even when Sam lets go of the rope, Thomas is unable to let him die and rescues him. Bergmans reveals that he has not killed Beatrice. Thomas goes to the mental asylum where she has been admitted and she responds favourably to his touch.
The visuals were stunning. Rajiv Menon and crew shot the real thing during Cyclone Nilam. Those footages plus the CG has given the storm a brilliant feel. It felt very scary to think that within the sea, this is how a storm would look. The locales were superb – as usual. The cinematography captured the emotions very well.
Gautam Karthik has done really well; he has no semblance of his father’s good acting skills. Whatever he has showcased is very original. Arvind Swamy and Arjun have lent a lot of meat to their roles, especially Arjun. As the bad guy, in many scenes, he is scintillating. Thulasi Nair doesn’t have much to do but she is good enough for whatever space she has in the movie. She does have the innocent look that the role demands.
The BGM and songs are superb. The songs have been misplaced in the movie or should not have been there at all. There are only two songs which have been choreographed – Adiye and Elay Keechan – and I liked the steps. It was different and Adiye couldn’t be choreographed better. Elay Keechan was decently done as well.
The dialogues are a huge minus point for the movie – a normal person outside of Tirunelveli would not understand it. In the entire movie, people speak only Thoothukudi slang. In a few places, a normal person would need translation or atleast subtitles to understand what is being said. Mani could have chosen a place where the Tamil is more understandable.
The characterization of Bergmans and Thomas is very good. The story depicts victory of love over evil. Even if faith seems to go away for some time, it comes back and keeps people going. This message is woven in a neat love story of two troubled individuals against the backdrop of the sea. How they triumph over all odds with faith and love is the story of Kadal.
There wasn’t much symbolism in the movie – it was a straight story and an even straighter narration. I think people were looking for something very deep when they went to see Kadal and got lost in their own thought waves and the story that they wanted Mani to tell. They never followed the story that Mani was saying. What a pity!
It is a decent movie, surely worth a watch!