Review of Vijay Milton’s Kadugu. Starring Bharath, Rajakumaran, Bharath Seeni, Subiksha, Radhika Prassidha, and Chandini Tamilarasan.
Vijay Milton has a pattern. Of sorts.
He made his directorial debut with Azhagai Irukkirai Bayamai Irukkiradhu, a romantic comedy inspired by Addicted To Love. The film’s female lead, Mallika Kapoor (a Tamil magazine quite wittily called her a “wax doll” for her performance in the film), was no Meg Ryan. Bharath, the male lead was no Meg Ryan either. And so, without a charismatic lead presence, the Tamil version was a total failure.
Several years later, Goli Soda happened. It was a solid story of underdogs triumphing against all odds. Made on a shoestring budget with adolescent stars from Pasanga, the movie benefited from Thirupathy bros’ canny marketing and its own optimistic plotline.
Then, 10 Endrathukulla happened. Everybody knew it was nothing more than a vanity project. A superstar indulging himself by working with a “critic approved” director. The critic approved director pandered to the superstar’s fan base, and threw in outlandish car stunts and a developmentally-stunted heroine.
And so, by default, his latest directorial attempt Kadugu must be good. It’s got Radhika Prassidha, who comes with glowing reviews for her performance in Kuttram Kadithal. It’s got Rajkumar in the kind of role that appeals to the redemption storyline we all love to love. Also, Bharath is a sort of villain in it.
But, heavy-duty melodrama is written all over it. And Milton is the sort of director would rather slam us on the head, make us bleed, and then tell us the truth.
Instead of just showing it.
To tell the tale of Puli J Pandi (Rajkumar), a puli vesham artist, as the righteous hero, Milton peppers his scenes with acts of compulsive kindness. Like when he buys a schoolgirl a pair of shoes, and gives money to a woman who has lost hers on the road.
Milton wants Pandi to wear a halo, and Bharath’s Nambi to lose his. And this insistent attempt to make the audience root for the hapless Pandi becomes quite irritating after a while.
Because Nambi is clearly the more interesting person. A good man at heart, he is torn between his love for politics and the need to do the right thing. When a powerful politician assaults a young girl, selfishness wins over. And Nambi spends the rest of his screen time brooding over his inability to do anything.
For the sort of broad brushstrokes filmmaking that Milton prefers, Nambi is a surprisingly well-etched character. For actor Bharath, this is one of his greyest roles yet. Radhika Prassidha as Eby is the sort of down-low actress Tamil cinema needs more of. Rajkumar plays the tortured artist with a set of tics and sudden bouts of aggression that would make Tharai Thappattai’s Sasikumar proud.
And yet, Kadugu is not a wholly satisfying film. It takes on issues it is not equipped to handle, and fails to answer many of the ethical dilemmas it unearths. And so the audience is left to debate it on the way home.
A fellow viewer summed it up best when he told his son, “The director is only human. He can only have so many answers.”
At least, he had questions.
The Kadugu review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.