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Review Hindi

Kaadan review: Well-intentioned story about wildlife conservation but not powerful enough

Release Date: 26 Mar 2021

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Haricharan Pudipeddi

The story of Kaadan is noble and had to be told, but what it lacks is the ability to create an impact, which is why the film doesn’t work as much as one would have expected.

Prabu Solomon, who made his mark as a filmmaker with films such as Mynaa (2010) and Kumki (2012), returns with a well-intentioned tale of wildlife conservation in Kaadan aka Aranya (Telugu) aka Haathi Mere Saathi (Hindi).

The film marks the Tamil debut of Rana Daggubati in a full-length role. The story is a noble one that needed to be told. But what the film lacks is the ability to create an impact, which is why it doesn’t work as well as many would have expected.

The story is centred on Rana Daggubati’s character of a forest man. Modelled on environmental activist Jadav Payeng, popularly called the Forest Man of India; the story sees him take on the system to fight against the encroachment of a reserve forest to build a township.

The initial moments of the film are all about the lead character's bond with wildlife, especially with elephants. The story of encroachment of forests is relevant and could create an important dialogue when told convincingly. Unfortunately, Kaadan is not that film.

Kaadan wants to be ambitious but is all over the place. It has a decent story arc in the first half when we are introduced to some interesting characters. Vishnu Vishal plays a mahout who helps the government to fend off wild elephants, but his character is abruptly removed at the end of the first half with not a single scene thereafter. Zoya Hussain plays a Naxalite (left-wing extremist) with a depressing past, but her character has little significance in the story. The same goes for Shriya’s character of a reporter who believes in Rana’s cause but also has little relevance. After a point, it feels like a film made with the sole purpose of elevating Rana’s character even if that makes all the others seem worthless.

As the forest man, Rana breathes life into his character. He delivers a mature act and plays the role convincingly, making it one of his best till date. But take out Rana’s earnest performance and some emotionally moving scenes with the elephants and the film collapses like a house of cards. The grandness of the forest is mostly captured via visual effects which are below par.

Though the intent to talk about wildlife conservation deserves praise, Kaadan is very predictable, with its grandeur merely used a gimmick to project the film on an epic scale.

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