Kadaikutty Singam: Flawed, Unapologetically Commercial Yet Undeniably Earnest
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Remember those mainstream, mass flavored Tamil family dramas? Samuthiram, Anandham and many such films? After a long time, Kadaikutty Singam fares decently enough to fall in the line of those films. But let’s be clear, if you are not a fan of the genre, you will definitely not like this one. However, the film isn’t entirely without faults, but these flaws give way to an average film because of the emotional engagement director Pandiraj effortlessly provides.
After giving birth to five daughters, Ranasingam’s (Sathyaraj) desperate prayers are answered when Gunasingam (Karthi Sivakumar) is born as his sixth child. Fulfilling his father’s dream, Gunasingam grows up to be a proud farmer. His big yet closely-knit family stay devoted to him with two of his aunt’s daughter’s constantly fighting to marry him. One day, Gunasingam lays his eyes on Kannukiniyal (Sayyeshaa) and instantly falls in love with her. However, this love costs him heavy for two reasons. One being his sisters who are incredibly disappointed with his decision to marry someone other than their daughters. Secondly, Kannukiniyal’s uncle is at an open caste-driven war with Gunasingam. Whether or not he brings his family back together and convinces them to accept his love interest forms the crux of the film.
One of the first aspects you would like about Kadaikutty Singam is its clarity. This isn’t clarity in terms of screenwriting or filmmaking. But this is the clarity to market itself right. Be it the trailer or the sneak peek that were doing the rounds on the internet, it clearly conveys to you that this is an out and out mass film heavily doused on family sentiments. It never leads you to think that it is anything more. Considering the fact that this establishment itself is rare these days, the team deserves a round of applause.
As far as comparisons go, Kadaikutty Singam isn’t the most original film. In fact, it isn’t a thought-provoking film either. But it is the kind of film that drowns you in the nostalgia of obnoxious yet emotional family dramas of the yesteryear. Now, one should know better than to go looking for logic in such films right?
To start with, Director Pandiraj has aced the casting in this film. From Sathyaraj to Soori all of the actors fit effortlessly into their roles and immerse you in the lives of their characters. This itself deems the film fit to be watched one time. Why? Whether it is while writing a story or if it is the process of executing it, a filmmaker desperately craves for only one thing. When his or her film releases on the silver screen, he expects acceptance from the audience. In Kadaikutty Singam, Director Pandiraj receives this acceptance from the audience. Gradually, you begin to get invested in the journey of the characters. You begin to see members of your family in each of them. This pays a generous compliment to the filmmaker. Despite the fact that you know the story is going to end well for everybody, you begin to feel for the characters. So, one of the foremost expectations of a filmmaker is met then and there.
Moreover, the film does try to go the extra mile. It does this by starting a discussion on the economic crisis that we are now facing. At a time when you are frustrated by the number of engineers our country produces by stepping over our native livelihood based jobs, this film gives you an outlet by having a proud farmer lead the film. Sure, his dialogues fall flat and they could’ve been more subtle, but at the end of the day, it does a good job at starting a conversation among the masses.
For example, there are people who’ve found Mani Ratnam’s films thought-provoking, but there are people who find KS Ravikumar’s films to be more impactful. In this time and age, there are many filmmakers who have begun to tell non-linear yet powerful stories like Mani Ratnam but there is a scarcity for directors like Ravikumar whose films might not be as politically correct or convincing as Mani Ratnam, but manages to start an important conversation among the masses that a Ratnam film might not be able to do. In this scenario, Kadaikutty Singam is no Bombay, but the fact is it needn’t be. It starts a conversation about the importance of agriculture among the masses. So, presentation, flaws and political correctness aside, this itself wins the film a few brownie points.
This isn’t to say that the film is without flaws. It is very flawed. For starters, it is open-minded to a woman and a man being friends but it still employs the same damsel in distress formula. Just like many other commercial films, it presents you with a non-threatening villain who you know the hero can beat in a millisecond. It makes the villainy all the more obnoxious by setting forth an action track that completely disrupts the core theme of the film. It’s as though the director cannot choose between an action or family drama and went on to settle for a bit of both. This half-heartedness spoils the mood of the film.
Furthermore, Kadaikutty Singam takes too long to even get to the core conflict in the film. Only in the second half does the film actually pick up its pace. Though the dialogues are well-thought, they are used as a means to deliver the message in the film. This points to lazy writing. To put it simply, if there was less telling and more showing, it could’ve been much more impactful. Lastly, there is a lot of crying too. This Tamil TV serial type of outburst puts you off whenever it occurs and unnecessarily amps up the melodrama in the film.
As Gunasingam, Karthi slips into character with utmost ease. His personality merges with the character’s personality perfectly. But his dancing skills see no improvement. As expected Sathyaraj pours his heart into Ranasingam’s character and leaves you with a few memorable moments. After a long time, comedian Soori’s one-liners and comedy strike a chord with you. As for the leading ladies, they have very little to do including Sayyeshaa and Priya Bhavani Shankar. Their acting is quite quintessential.
Music Director D Imman’s songs are unimpressive and the song placement is bad too. But Velraj’s cinematography lifts up the core of the film, leaving you with visuals that are quite convincing. But the visualization of the Rekla race could’ve been better.
On the whole, Kadaikutty Singam is for those of you who would love a good nostalgic drama that reminds you of films like Anandham. If it is an Avant-Garde approach you’re looking for, kindly sit this one out.