Monday, January 17, 2011

Aadukalam: Of Schmucks and Suffering

Vetrimaran's Aadukalam is the tale of a young man,Karupu whose blind trust is repaid with betrayal. The director takes you into a world where a man's honour is tied to his cock or prize rooster if you prefer, where friends become bitter foes over imagined quarrels, and where lives are sacrificed in order to nurse an old man's injured pride. It has a good script, is technically sound, has great music, and boasts of some fine performances. And yet it missed its mark for this reviewer.

Why is that? On paper it is an interesting concept to study the extremes of human nature but on the big screen when you are subjected to gritty scenes depicting the sheer misery of the human condition brought on by the petty foibles that characterize our lot, it gets really depressing. Having your spirit lacerated by the sufferings of the schmucks, on screen is far from a pleasurable experience. Vetrimaran is very talented but is not Shakespearean enough to sell tragedy on such a scale to the audience.

Yes, I say schmucks because Karupu (Danush) and Dorai (Kishore) are blinded by their own stupidity and are largely responsible for their lives falling apart. The Iago inspired Pettaikaran(Jayabalan)who is the mentor and boss of the two men becomes jealous when Karupu steals his thunder at a cock - fighting tournament and is worried that his younger assistants will have him put to pasture. So he decides to turn them against each other and destroy Karupu in the process. The machinations of the old man lead to tragic consequences and an unexpected climax, though one wishes Karupu had shown more gumption when he found out about the betrayal.

Dhanush is impressive in this movie and so is Kishore. Jayabalan as the evil old man who stings with a gentle smile and an arm thrown over your shoulder is disturbing. Taapsee as Karupu's love interest suits her character to the letter. Kudos to Vetrimaran for extracting such brilliant performances. But perhaps in his next movie he will forego the pity- party and return to his rocking Polladhavan days.

Last Word: You can watch it once for the innovative script and the performances if you don't mind getting a severe case of the blues.

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