Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu
We are still on Tuesday but I have the last leftover from a spectacular weekend. And with that I finished watching the new Tamil film Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu streaming on Amazon Prime. This was a film that I wished to watch on the big screen but I missed out on that opportunity and since then I have been keeping a tab on its OTT release. I was really excited about this film because it has been a while since I have watched and reviewed a gangster drama and its glowing word of mouth made me all the more curious. Directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon whom I personally feel is quite underrated and rarely has he been mentioned in the same breath as some of the others, I finally finished watching Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu. And here are my two cents on the film.
Story & Screenplay
Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu is essentially the first part of a two part film, which focuses on the journey of the protagonist from a small village in Tamil Nadu to the dreaded gangster of Mumbai. The story may not be novel but it is the world building and the characterization where the drama really scores(and scores really well). The screenplay standing at a whopping 170 minutes is daunting and I was really skeptical about it before stepping into the film. But the story is so well presented and I did not get distracted even for a minute.
The drama opens with the introduction of the protagonist from a humble background who is essentially jobless despite being educated and having a degree. You instantly are sucked into the drama following a spectacular opening sequence which features a fire on a haystack filled with thorns. Soon you are introduced to the family of the protagonist including an influential uncle which turns the story on its head.
The narrative style is surprisingly layered and so you will not find any instant answers to certain events in the film. The drama unfolds through the gaze of the protagonist to begin with and slowly but surely you as a viewer are invested in his journey. Once the setting changes to Mumbai, things start to get interesting. Through the protagonist, you get a glimpse of the city which is not what the protagonist had imagined it to be. You can feel the tension in the drama despite no real action taking place. The conflict between two sects of the society was definitely a great setup for a gangster drama. A subplot involving a budding romance acts as a circuit breaker although it does work individually and most definitely is a vital cog in the screenplay.
As the layers begin to peel, you start to feel a sense of empathy towards the protagonist and his friend, who are caught in this web of violence and deceit with no way out. The proceedings are engaging and engrossing with a constant focus being on the buildup. All hell breaks loose in a brilliant one take sequence at the half way mark that sets up things beautifully for the second hour.
There are a few twists and turns along the way in a gangster film that does brilliantly in its world building and characterization. These were the two main ingredients to be focused on and the writers get these spot on. There is bloodshed and a lot of violence which will also keep you invested. The events leading up to the final act are excellent as you slowly see the journey of an innocent man transform into a killing machine. This switch was done well too. A small little liberty has been taken of the romantic subplot which did seem far fetched.
The final act might seem slightly underwhelming but you have to keep in mind that a sequel is on the cards so things needed to be setup for the same. But I wonder if they could have ended it on a cliffhanger? Guess we will never know! But overall, the screenplay is brilliantly engaging right throughout without a single dull moment.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are nicely written and supremely impactful. The music and BGM by AR Rahman is good and both go perfectly well with the mood of the drama. However, was the lip sync to some of the songs necessary? Probably not. The cinematography and art design get the vibe of the drama just right and do well in building the right amount of tension. The former is spectacular in some of the one take sequences which made for an enthralling watch. Director Gautham Vasudev Menon has done a phenomenal job here. Despite its daunting length, he keeps the drama consistently engaging by some brilliant world building and characterization that keep you invested throughout.
The performances are outstanding here. Shrisha as Sapna has her moments to shine as does Aangelina Abraham as Gomathi and Jaffer Sadiq who are a treat to watch. Raadika Sarathkumar as Latchumi is first rate as is Appukutty as Saravanan. Siddique as Kutty and Sara as Karjee are both spectacular as the antagonists, both decently powerful but not overpowering the protagonist. Neeraj Madhav as Sreedharan is quite brilliant and makes his presence felt. Siddhi Idnani as Paavai looks pretty and is wonderfully restrained in a very dignified act. Silambarasan TR as Muthu has so many shades to his character in one helluva character arc. He takes you on a roller coaster of a journey but the beauty of it is that you root for him right throughout particularly because of the way he portrays his character. This was quite a towering performance!
Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu is a brilliantly engaging gangster drama which shall keep you invested right throughout. Available on Amazon Prime and Highly Recommended!