Kidaari opens with blood flowing on a mosaic floor. An elderly man (Kombaiah) has been stabbed, and is being rushed to the hospital. His trusted aide, Poyyali, tells us about his life, and the story of his enemies.
Kidaari (Sasikumar) is that done-to-death character in Tamil cinema: the henchman. He and his clan work for Kombaiah (Vela Ramamoorthy). In one lengthy scene, Kidaari gets into an argument over the lyrics of ‘Thooliyile Aada Vandha’ (from the 1980s film Chinna Thambi). The scene begins with a friendly bet, and escalates to a murder threat. In the process, Kidaari manages to intimidate a business associate into closing a deal with his boss – a deal that heavily favours Kombaiah.
(Inevitably, the first thing you want to do after after watching the film is google those lyrics.)
There are many such scenes, full of wry humour that masks Kidaari’s real, villainous intentions. Kidaari and his clan are like this: they can step out of their house without proper clothes, but not without half a dozen weapons.
The names of Kombaiah’s enemies are displayed on screen like chapter titles. Poyyali recites each one, and the names of their sons and brothers. It sounds as if the audience is supposed to make a special note, even though they are names like Market Ramasamy, Bombay Selvam, Pulikutthi Pandiyan, and Kadarkarai.
The characters come and go, and are as unremarkable as their names. And this is the problem with having characters revolve around Kidaari and Kombaiah. The rest of the cast has little to do other than say their lines and leave. Or, more frequently, get killed.
Nevertheless, Kidaari can boast of some stellar performances by Vela Ramamoorthy, Vasumithra (as Kombaiah’s son), Mu Ramasamy, and Suja Varunee. Nikhila Vimal’s rendition of the ‘bubbly girl’ Chemba is reminiscent of Meera Jasmine and Manju Warrior. She comes across as any other girl from Tamil Nadu – quick-witted, spunky, and emotional. Without the blaring clothes and vacuous dialogues to constantly draw attention to her femininity, Chemba can be as bubbly as she likes, and isn’t annoying at all. Her character, dialogues, and the way she speaks is perhaps closest to Ananya’s character in Nadodigal (also a Sasikumar film).
Unfortunately, the romance between the two actors seems to have been randomly slapped in. Just to give us a break from all the sickle-flashing and bone-breaking.
From the gold-loving MGR in Kudiyirundha Kovil to the loyal friend Rajinikanth in Thalapathi, Tamil cinema has given us every kind of henchman. Kidaari brings nothing new to the table, barring an unfortunate hairstyle. He is loyal, and enjoys a certain hold over his boss’ family. He easily asks Kombaiah’s son to shut up, and the scion obeys. He likes to dictate terms to a family he considers his own. There is more conviction in his actions – he doesn’t just commit crimes out of loyalty, but also because he wants to. Deeply.
It’s a character with plenty of scope for an actor to show emotions. But Sasikumar simply switches from intense face (action scene), to deadpan face (comedy scene), to sheepish grin face (romance scene). The way he looks at his heroines, with his head tilted downward and eyes looking upward, hasn’t changed since Nadodigal.
Scenes are unnecessarily lengthy, and dialogues repeat. And yet, what works heavily in Kidaari‘s favour is a persistent strain of wry humour. From the opportunistic OAK Sundar whose plotting eventually backfires, to the elderly man who keeps bragging about being Kidaari’s guru only to be insulted later, the writing seems to be constantly chuckling at itself.
Darbuka Siva’s music, which refuses to lazily deploy the usual village drama music, is refreshing. In fact, the heavy rock undertones to his songs and the background score sets the album apart from previous scores in this genre.
Looking back, I realise with astonishment that Kidaari is actually a whodunit thriller – it’s about finding out who stabbed the central character. Astonishment, because Kidaari lacks the very essence of a thriller – thrill. Instead of guessing who the killer might be, we are given one aruva-sandai after another. Hours after watching the film, the sound of steel sickles simply refuses to die down.
The Kidaari 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.