Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching another Malayalam film Kaduva on Amazon Prime. By now you know the quality that the Malayalam films bring to the table. So when I heard that Prithviraj Sukumaran was again venturing into the mass entertainer genre after Ayyappanum Koshiyum, I was really curious. The actor is known to dabble with genres and the prolific actor which he is, he pulls off almost all of his roles with utmost sincerity and style. But speaking of Ayyappanum Koshiyum, it needed a skilled director too to knit together a gritty tale and Sachy had done it beautifully. The mass entertainers might be a part of the mainstream for other film industries but it is definitely not for Malayalam cinema which is known to strike a fine balance between art and commercial cinema. And with that I finished watching the Malayalam film Kaduva with a sense of skepticism and here are my two cents on it.
Story & Screenplay
Kaduva follows the story of an ego battle between a rich plantation owner and a cop. Now where have we heard this story before? Yes you guessed it! This is Ayyappanum Koshiyum lite! The story has a similar conflict and hence this concept isn’t novel. The screenplay standing at 150 minutes felt a bit daunting from the onset and it turned out to be exactly what I had feared.
The drama opens on a good note with the introduction of the protagonist who is attacked in jail only for a fight to follow. Now if you remember Ayyappanum Koshiyum(can’t help the comparison), the conflict was established in the very first scene. But here, an entire flashback in the first half leads up to the conflict. Now I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a flawed approach. But during the flashback, the initial seeds sown seemed less convincing for a whole blown fight. So the basic foundation of the drama was compromised.
While the first half is pretty decent with a shocking subplot featuring the father of the church, I really felt a little more focus could have been on this particular subplot which was the most interesting. By the time this subplot ended, I couldn’t help but feel that it was half baked and something which could have been explored a little more. By the start of the second half, the things go for a bit of a toss. If you remember Ayyappanum Koshiyum, the basic plot was so simple with a simmering sense of tension. Here, the tension is not quite built and the plot gets convoluted unnecessarily.
The subplots including the top level politicians just took that shine away from the drama. By the way, the drama is consistently watchable and some people may enjoy it as well. But given the high bar of Malayalam films, this one falls way short in my humble opinion. The final fight sequence is a good one setting up a path for its second part as well. However, to get to there you would need to traverse through uneventful and slightly dragged second hour which is really not the best. Overall, a decent screenplay which doesn’t quite hold your attention.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are massy and quite well written. The music is outstanding with powerful notes that go so well with the drama. Also, none of yhe songs deter the flow of the drama, instead they take the drama forward. I felt sorry for the BGM. This is because it was brilliant and consistently trying to save the day single handedly. It is one of the best BGM scores which I have heard after Bheeshma Parvam and Jakes Bejoy needs to be applauded here. The fight sequences(barring the ones in the final act) are a bit of a letdown and my comparison is again with Ayyappanum Koshiyum which had realistic fight sequences as opposed to over the top fights with people flying everywhere. The cinematography is impressive here. Director Shaji Kailas has all the skills of a good director which he briefly shows here. However, he doesn’t quite nail it here. His direction lacks clarity particularly in the secomd hour when things start to go awry. I would sum it up by saying that the direction is plain average here.
The performances are really good here. Priyanka Nair as Thankam and Samyukhta Menon as Elsa have their moments to shine. I was really impressed with Arjun Asokan who is very well restrained here. Rahul Madhav as Ft. Robin is spectacular and his cold smile will make your blood boil. Vivek Oberoi as Joseph is really good although I felt his role was a touch underwritten especially in the second hour. Prithviraj Sukumaran as Kaduva is brilliant and he really sinks his teeth in his role. But a better script was the need of the hour here.
Kaduva is Ayyappanum Koshiyum lite. It is predictable and unlike the latter, it fails to create a mark. Available on Amazon Prime.