Tamil Reviews

Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum Review: Dark and Light

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I seem to have grown an annoying little trait. That of slapping labels on movie titles. Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum, for instance, screams of director Selvaraghavan. It’s a lovely rhyme, has a nice ring to it – and it’s as vaguely unsettling as a lovely rhyme can be.

Mayakkam Enna, Irandam Ulagam, Yaradi Nee Mohini, Nenjam Marapathillai…

Selvaraghavan questions. Not necessarily punctuated always, but he does. And this title is right there in his league. Deep. Unsatisfying.

Poignant?

You could say that. While it doesn’t help that Nalan Kumarasamy has just another frame of reference, Soodhu Kavvum, in all its wacky glory, was solid definition, indeed. Precisely why, Eskimo Kadhal – the erstwhile title of KaKaPo – seemed a good pick; cryptic with that lovely pulpy edge, it was quintessentially Nalan – a crisp, stapled novella. I could almost smell the fresh ink.

*****

But this isn’t a Nalan film. The tale and screenplay – from what little I could see of My Dear Desperado – have been adapted (brilliantly, though) to the Tamil screen. Sethupathi is Kathir – a rowdy who isn’t deemed rowdy-enough. He broods, wields weapons of choice, broods again. Madonna Sebastian (as Yazhini, Kathir’s neighbour) is all that Kathir isn’t; she is an engineer out of work – and the yawning chasm between them notwithstanding, they strike an unlikely friendship.

There are no discernible rough edges (save for the deliberately-styled Vijay Sethupathi) in KaKaPo; nothing to suggest that this movie, was perhaps, not originally conceived by the director. And this diligent reproduction, with a dash of cultural paraphernalia, deserves merit. It might not receive the kind of theatrical applause that Soodhu Kavvum did, but Kumarasamy doesn’t quite care. He doesn’t care about repeating his hero, or about picking a script that would enable him to flex (the same) muscles over and over again – bar-brawls, a rowdy who isn’t one, a bunch of rough-tongued goons, and the portrait of a city’s underbelly – but he does think twice about alluding to sex. During a particular instance, we see Kathir and Yazhini sharing a drunken night. Kumarasamy is quite chaste about it. Yazhini wakes up in Kathir’s arms, and that really is all that the director is willing to risk. He also throws us a song (featuring a jubilant Kathir) that would probably hint some more. And this …cultural sensitivity is a little disappointing. In an earlier scene, Yazhini drinks, Kathir buys her more drinks – and quick on its heels – just before we could rejoice – is a wry remark about women drinking. A ‘joke’ about the number of engineers in Tamil Nadu follows, and then, a sly allusion to women empowerment and the BBC. Things that Soodhu Kavvum admirably steered clear of.


*****

I’ve grown fond of a certain genre of romantic compositions: beautiful retro orchestra, a flurry of light beats, breezy vocals, and nutty lyrics. Santhosh Narayanan – distinctive here with Pangaali, a typical gangster score, (a version of which he had employed in Jigarthanda), is deliberately clinical with romance. The percussion is restrained, the chords don’t overwhelm the lyrics, and his strings are carefully chosen.

Just lovely.

*****

The Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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