Kadugu: A Promising Plot with a Preachy Undertone
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Vijay Milton’s celebrated directorial Goli Soda, had a fresh cast, an intriguing backdrop, and some earnest writing. After making such an ambitious splatter, director Vijay Milton’s star ensemble, 10 Endrathukulla turned out to be such a mainstream catastrophe. Now, with his promising character-driven Kadugu, it is clear that the director in Milton shines the brightest only when he isn’t busy getting star-trapped.
Set in a small town that shifts and crumbles in the face of adversity, Kadugu follows the lives of Puli J Pandian (Rajakumaran) a fading folk artist with a heart of gold, Nambi (Bharat) the entrusted hero of the town, Anirudh (Bharath Seeni) a petty thief who falls helplessly in love, Eby (Radhika Prassidha) a teacher whose back-story haunts her and an affectionate little girl whose innocence gets taken away.
The journey of these characters and the consequences they are met with when an anticipated visit from the minister takes a turn for the worse forms the crux of the film.
Kadugu is an impactful story with its fair share of flaws. Its thought-provoking plot is hidden beneath layers of outdated comedy, an overtly preachy undertone and below average technicalities.
Even though the film does away from distracting songs or standalone comedy tracks, it still takes a lot of time to establish its characters. The first half would have been more impactful if the unnecessary Facebook jokes and overuse of preachy dialogues were toned down.
Considering the sensitive premise of the story, Milton’s suitable characterization and uncompromising treatment of the story is quite impressive. Once you get past the film’s tendency to preach, the dialogues do strike a chord. You find yourself rooting for Pandi when he wholeheartedly delivers lines like “It doesn’t matter what other people think of you, what really matters is if you’re true to yourself.”
The dialogues are sharp but a few remarks do leave you troubled. In Pandi’s closing monolog, he makes a passing judgment about Sunny Leone. That one moment takes a little credibility away from the character’s understanding, but his good intentions manage to overshadow his prevailing flaws.
As Puli J Pandiyan, Rajakumaran carries the film on his shoulders. His character takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride. His wit and charisma reminds you of Mannar Mannan from Joker. Bharat delivers a memorable performance as Nambi. His character arc in the film has been shaped so beautifully. From being a responsible hero, he metamorphoses into a power-hungry villain with such finesse.
After Kuttram Kadithal, this is the second time Radhika Prassidha is seen playing a teacher. As the learned yet vulnerable Eby, she does leave an impression, but you can’t help but hope she manages to bring in more versatility to her choice of roles in the future. As the petty thief turned helpless lover, Bharath Seeni sinks into Aniruth’s character and earns quite a few laughs from the audiences with his spontaneity and relatability.
Kadugu’s sub-standard imagery softens the blow the film intends to create. The visuals lack sharpness, and some scenes are downright hazy. In some sequences, just as the camera pans, the shots tend to go out of focus. Considering Vijay Milton is an established cinematographer, the use of amateur imagery to support such a promising plot is very disappointing. The Editing also fails to leave an impression. J.R. John Abraham tries to weave in too many shots into one sequence that ends up overwhelming the audience. If he had made prolonging cuts instead, the editing would have been more suitable to the tone of the narrative.
On the whole, Kadugu is a promising plot that takes great strength from its fascinating characters. But once you dive deeper, the below average technicalities and overtly preachy narrative soften the impact.