Director: KV Anand
Cast: Suriya, Mohanlal, Sayyeshaa, Arya, Boman Irani
KV Anand’s Kaappaan has Mohanlal in the role of a very curious, intruding Prime Minister. What’s weird about that you may ask, and that is fair. This Prime Minister christened by way of royals — Chandrakanth Varma — makes the tackiest analogies and metaphors. Again, you might ask why is that weird, thanks to current and various other examples. But Chandrakanth is closer to the creepy scale. To establish a relationship between the country one emigrated to and the country of birth/citizenship, he uses a confused example of love and marriage. He attempts a stand-up routine, requesting a crowd full of delegates and businessmen in London to loosen up and answer a few questions — about their love lives, about marriage — before delivering this analogy as a punchline. He probes his new personal security guard Kathir (Suriya) about his marriage and love life. He talks gossip — apparently, South Block is tantalised by Kathir and PR secretary Anjali’s (Sayyeshaa) romantic interlocution — and advises Kathir to do something about it. I don’t know if Kathir did, but Chandrakanth gets a kissing scene (not to worry, it’s with his wife). For a Prime Minister who is hyperaware of his surroundings, he and his team make terrible decisions. After two unsuccessful attempts at his life, he goes on with an event planned in — no, you’ll never guess where or maybe you will — Kashmir.
It won’t be a difficult task to guess that this film is from KV Anand, who has taught the Tamil audience about Tamils who came from Burma, conjoined twins, the modus operandi of drug smugglers operating between India and South East Asia, the murky world behind our television sets and the events inside the business model of a TV channel. Like all those films falling all over the place in the quality scale, Kaappaan too is a confluence of half-realised ideas as an attempt to make something complex palatable to the commercial audience.
We are introduced to Kathir as a village man heading a natural farming drive complete with a posh looking couch made of greens. Amid thatched roofs and newly-constructed toilets, the grass/plant couch looks straight out of something you’ll find at Wimbledon Park. It’s glorious in its conspicuousness, like someone dropped a naturally-made couch for a future vegan ‘Central Perk’ in Theni district. This is all part of that unwieldy marriage of plot concoctions — a former military officer masquerading as a very invested farmer while carrying out special ops for the government, an Ambani like businessman (Boman Irani as Mahadev — deliberately named, of course — in Nizhalgal Ravi’s voice, which is disorienting) developing a bio-weapon of locusts (there is a tiny Jurassic Park angle to this that is no fun putting into words — you want to tell the guy, “Life will find a way”), a farmer turning into security guard for the Prime Minister and an impending war with Pakistan after insurgents kill Indian Army men in Kashmir.
KV Anand’s staples with regard to filmmaking are also here. All the quick editing and fast-paced shots make the film appear to be running on steroids, but if you sit back and think, nothing much is actually happening. Maybe, he feels that if the film is edited this way, the monotonous nature won’t show. There are no real stakes like he managed to conjure in his better films — Kana Kandaen, Ko or even Ayan. The Prime Minister’s life is still in danger, there is no new information, we get to know a couple of personal details about Kathir and his batchmates — the women cook and the men drink — and everyone hangs out at the Prime Minister’s house like it is their favorite hangout spot. See, ‘Central Perk’ again. Must be renamed Centre’s Perk. But, I did enjoy the longish scene with Kathir, Mahadev and Abhishek (Arya, Chandrakanth’s prodigal son) where the latter learns valuable lessons in the form of offering us familiar laughs.
Kaappaan lacks the thrill required of a solid action film. It doesn’t need stunts — neither the physical ones nor all the farming, bioweapons mishmash to deliver an entertainer. Yeah, I see your oh-so-subtle subtext of a Central Government manipulating a business magnate to unflinchingly use his weapon against Tamil Nadu for personal gains, but that doesn’t cut it.
Just take a look at what H Vinoth did with Theeran Adhigaram Ondru and how the hand-to-hand combat action set pieces were imaginative and relentless. It’s not just fast-paced shots, but the blows stick their landing too. In comparison, Kaappaan is nothing but a dull attempt at remaking Vijaykanth’s Maanagara Kaaval with more toys like natural farming and science, just because now we can. But never touch a film that has its old-world charms in cold storage and is capable of eking out a fond memory by its sheer entertainment value. Captain — the early to mid-90s version — was and is still Captain.
The Kaappaan review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.