Film: Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum
Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Madonna Sebastian, Samuthirakani
In what is certainly novel, Vijay Sethupathi’s Kathir is a bungling gangster in Nalan Kumarasamy’s Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum -- a remake of the Korean 2011 drama, My Dear Desperado. It’s incredible for a hero like Sethupathi to be bashed up and brutalised ever so often during the 137-minute running time of the film. And this point is unabashedly driven home by the Premam actor, Madonna Sebastian, when she, playing a fresh Information Technology employee, Yazhini, asks with sarcasm dripping whether Kathir receives many more blows than what he actually gives.
Packed with wit rather than violence, the movie has us tickled with innumerable one-liners. For example, when Kathir asks fellow diners in a roadside eatery to keep their mouths shut, one lone female voice quips, but how do we eat then? A lovely scene this that reveals the start of an unlikely relationship between Kathir and a college graduate, Yazhini, who arrives in Chennai for a professional assignment -- a journey which her station master father (in small town close the metropolis) and mother are initially reluctant to let their daughter make.
In Chennai, the first flush of excitement which comes with her job gives way to disappointment and desperation when the company goes bust, and Yazhini is too proud to return home. So, she shifts to a more modest flat whose neighbour happens to be a once-upon-a-time gangster, Kathir, whose fairly long stint in jail leaves him physically and perhaps psychologically unfit to take on battles and brawls. He spends his days pleading with his boss to let him open a liquor bar. He even fancies himself as one with a smart business card and all the other trappings that go with such proprietorship. But, instead, he finds himself sticking posters on roadside walls, and that is what his boss thinks Kathir is fit for.
Watch the trailer of Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum here:
Yazhini, however, begins to develop a soft corner for Kathir, and the few times he helps her tide over impediments seem to cement the relationship. Till, she is bold enough to ask him to play her boss -- whom she can introduce to her parents -- who are by then highly doubtful about Yazhini’s employment. The meeting does not go well. But, of course.
Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum is often predictable and ponderous, though there are some interesting shots that lift the narrative. The rain scene is one, but like most of Tamil cinema, Kumarasamy’s work also cries for greater refinement. A certain lack of finesse is apparent throughout, and the story could have been told more effectively had the movie been edited into a 100-minute slot.
Add to this, Sethupathi’s tendency to mumble his lines (something which Hollywood star Marlon Brando did all the time) -- a lack of clarity in dialogue delivery that one has been noticing even in his earlier works -- is annoying, to say the least.
Yes, a certain redemption comes from Sebastian, who is very good essaying a girl in utter dilemma when she loses her job, and even when she finds herself drawn towards the ‘rowdy’ as she calls Kathir. Can she fill the chasm between them, bridge their yawning differences in social status?