Call of the wild
Aadukalam, much like Vetrimaaran’s previous Polladhavan, is narrated in In Media Res mode. However, while Polladhavan opened with a gruesome scene of stabbing violence, Aadukalam begins a pacifist with a gang breaking into a shed where the protagonist, according to their eyes, has slit someone’s throat open. Now, we know that this is not true, and that he’s been framed as a murderer. But, we have no other last resort but to buy it that way rather than protesting for the protagonist’s innocence. The narration switches back to six months in a grim-looking Madurai where a few police constables are chasing a few petty thieves. The way each one of them elude the cops is a funny scene. What’s even funnier are the punch dialogues spoken by the protagonist, KP Karuppu. “We go swimming in a tsunami” he proclaims when he’s threatened by members from another gang. What struck me here is, how on earth did the tsunami reach Madurai for someone to comment, or is he just bragging that if a tsunami struck, he would just put on his swimming trunks and go on with the aforementioned action. On the contrary, this is Dhanush’s best performance, similar in style to Pudhupettai, where his punch dialogues however weren’t this stereotyped. Imagine Kokki Kumar muttering the tsunami line while his suitors stab him countless times. How ironic could that be?
Karuppu works in the shades of Pettaikaaran, a veteran in the field of cockfights, a traditional sport in Madurai and its sister towns. Another disciple of Pettaikaaran is Durai, played with gusto by Kishore. Seeing Kishore play a sophomore character is a revelation as the actor deserves a good stand. Taapsee Pannu plays Irene, an Anglo-Indian with pearl white skin. Her face suits the Anglo-Indian girl she plays, but, will that fit her roles in the upcoming films? As Pettaikaaran, Jayabalan becomes the backbone of Aadukalam as the character completely carries the weight of the film.
With a screenplay that runs lines about deceit and betrayal, Vetrimaaran builds up enough suspense with the graphically created cockfights in the first half, while the second half details about the cockfights laid by Pettaikaaran in the minds of Karuppu and Durai. G.V. Prakash Kumar continues his trend of being ‘inspired’ by Hollywood music scores, but comes up with a commendable ‘Yaathe Yaathe’ which sees the bullseye. Taking human emotions as a base for revenge, Aadukalam sees drama become tensile, but, that doesn’t make quite an impression. Nevertheless, Aadukalam is a movie worth a watch.
With respect to a film industry which has seen more duplication than any other, Aadukalam is an original which however carries a century-old message. But, if you want a novel experience, watch it for Dhanush.