Mumbai, 25 Mar 2017 15:04 IST
It is Vijay Milton's dialogue and cinematography that really make Kadugu work.
Vijay Milton's biggest strength is that his stories have simple but exceptionally strong, messages. Kadugu is no different. The message in this film can best be summed up in the lead character of Puli Paandi's statement (played by director Rajakumaran) 'Do you know who is worse than a bad person? Well, it is a good person who does not stand up and question a crime when it is committed.'
That definition of good and evil is the essence of Kadugu, and Vijay Milton deserves an applause for that message and the manner in which his film puts it across.
The film begins with an honest police inspector (played by director A Venkatesh) getting transferred to Tharangambaadi, a small coastal town. To keep him company and to cook for him, he brings along with him Puli Paandi (director Rajakumaran), a poor but honest folk artiste who takes immense pride in his art. At the police station, they get to meet Anirudh (played by Bharat Seeni) a gas mechanic who, unable to pay the fine imposed by cops for a driving violation, has taken up work as a helper at the police station.
Soon, we are introduced to other characters like Nambi (played by Bharat), the town's big shot boxer whose social welfare programmes keep the town going. Nambi also wields great influence in the political and administrative circles of the region. Then, there is also a school teacher Eby (played by Radhika Prassidha) who, despite a horrid past, puts up a brave face and looks to help others.
Nambi seems to be the gentleman that people perceive him to be. Until a minister, in whose good books Nambi wishes to remain, chooses to visit the town during a political campaign. A series of incidents during that night changes the lives of all the characters in the film. What happens during the night, and how it changes them, particularly Puli Paandi and Nambi, is at the heart of the film.
The film has some powerful points to make and makes them through some impactful dialogues. Vijay Milton can take a bow for his work on those effective lines.
Sample this: Kadugu begins with a sequence that defines the character of its protagonist, Puli Paandi. The poor, but honourable man is brought to a shooting set to perform his folk dance in a public awareness ad on alcoholism. The scene offers a glimpse of VIjay Milton's characterisation of Puli Paandi, and his integrity. In a brief line that stands out for its simplicity, and effectiveness, Milton questions the hypocrisy of people through the character. Puli Paandi's insistence on being honest to his art, and to himself, despite the temptations is a part of Milton's message. As Paandi says, "Just because others can't see what you have done in private, does not mean that I will do something that is harmful. Wearing clean undergarments is in your own interest.One does not wear dirty undergarments and clean clothes on top of it, thinking nobody is going to know."
Bharat comes up with a fantastic performance which makes one wonder why he is not seen more often on screen. As the boxer and wealthy landlord wielding great influence, Bharat simply steals the show. His rippling muscles do the talking in the action sequences, while his eyes and expressions deliver in dramatic and romantic sequences. A complete actor, his performance is easily the best in the film.
Director Rajakumaran, for most parts, looks convincing as the simple, down-to-earth, honest and courageous folk artiste. There are some scenes where Rajakumaran could have been a little more subtle, but then, those sequences are too few and far in between. The director-turned-actor delivers a good performance on the whole.
Another director-turned-actor who slips into a very impressive performance is A Venkatesh. As the police inspector, Venkatesh livse the part. A trait that audiences have come to expect of him after his recent films. Bharat Seeni as Anirudh and Radhika as Eby manage to do justice to their roles.
John Abraham's editing and Anoop Seelin's background score are big strengths of the film, as is Vijay Milton's cinematography.
On the whole, Kadugu works for its effective packaging of an integral message.