Kadugu movie review: Vijay Milton film's biggest strength is its story and characterisation
Vijay Milton, a cameraman turned director, is one of Tamil cinema’s earnest and sincere filmmakers. Before Kadugu, he had directed just three films out of which Goli Soda (2014) with newcomers and children gave him critical acclaim and box-office success.
His last release in 2015, 10 Enradhukulla with big commercial stars like Vikram and Samantha, was a disaster. Two years later, Milton is back to his roots by making a realistic, character-driven film like Kadugu.
The director has experimented with an unusual casting and pulled it off in style. Rajakumaran, a Tamil film director whose claim to fame is when he married actress Devayani, plays the central character of a do-gooder folk artist called Puli J Pandi, a man who makes a living doing Puli Vesham (Tiger dance). The story is set in the coastal village of Tharangampadi.
The out of work artist makes a living assisting a police Inspector (A Venkatesh) to carry out his work and also cooks for him. Pandi’s best friend is Anirudh (Bharath Seeni), a petty thief who is also a helper at the police station.
The people in the town love and respect the local rich man and a boxer Nambi (Bharat, a popular young hero), who always lends a helping hand. Eby, a school teacher (Radhika Prassidha), with a horrific past story, falls in love with the kind hearted Pandi. A lecherous state minister who sows seed of political ambition in Nambi is called as chief guest at a school function. Tragedy strikes as the minister tries to molest an underage girl and Nambi turns a blind eye to it.
However the righteous Puli Pandi takes cudgels on behalf of the girl as the system turns against him.
Kadugu’s biggest strength is its story and characterisation. The story is told in a thriller style and explains that nobody is good or bad but it is the situation and circumstances that determines the outcome. Rajakumaran as Puli Pandi is a revelation and aptly cast, while Bharat as Nambi has given a stunning performance. The highlight is the last 15 minutes of the film when good triumphs over evil.
The film has its flaws, though only 115 minutes long, and it plods along at a leisurely pace. In the first half there is some unwanted comedy and Facebook inspired romance, which does not gel with the story arc. Kadugu is heavy on sledge hammer like melodrama, when it could have been told in a subtle manner. However these are minor flaws in a film where the director take the road less travelled.