Randomly on Kadal

Beatrice is unable to react when Thomas confesses that he is a sinner and that he is not the man she knew him to be. She is a kid by heart and thinks it’s a wrong-doing like her stealing sugar when no one is looking. She just asks him not to do it again like how she was told when she ‘sinned’. However later she is completely able to relate to the feel when Sam (Aravindsamy) plays her the tape of young Thomas swearing and crying for his mom. She gets that feel.  As much as that scene is a bit of a spoon feeding by Maniratnam’s standards, it shows how good the characters are written in an non-Maniratnam like way that you almost think the characters are shallow.

One cannot stop thinking of Dark Knight’s joker when Arjun – Bergman (what are you referring to Ingmar Bergman?) is hung upside down in the middle of the Kadal. Mani Ratnam is very fond of exploring that blurring moment of Good and Bad. There are no stated rules of that when it comes to relationships or the ones in power. The 2 other places apart from religion where you can and society has classically defined good and bad.

ManiRatnam explores the same Good and Bad in Kadal against the backdrop of religion more than a fishing community.  Bergman is made to be the sinner – the Satan at the start of the story by the so-called-God Father Sam. ManiRatnam by the means of Bergman questions who are we to define him to be eternally Satan and ponders over that with Jayamohan if that classification came from religion and if its eternally that be it good or bad which makes one feel like this is a Christianity sermon all over. It is just not that.

L K Advani famously said – after the defeat of BJP in Lok Sabha elections that people ought to see Raavan if you have to know how good Ram was.

Father Sam’s goodness comes out of him differentiating him from Bergman – atleast in his eyes and goes on to be that shepherd of the weak – Thomas. When everything is set – Bergman returns to show how the Bad is always defined by circumstances and that Bad – as defined is not what was written but by what situations dictate you to be. It is never eternal even when classically defined. Father Sam falls for it and suffers. Meanwhile equally abused by the village [as father Sam is now] Thomas decides that the path he takes must not be of Father Sam who succumbed to the capriciousness of the village but bring it to his terms and finds that in Bergman who chiseled his life along by hook or crook. Beatrice with all her innocence spurs a thought in him that life is not about that but being able to right a wrong when wrong proves to be a better opportunity. It’s often that simple experience that changes something in us and comes to the rescue of the ones suffering. He goes back to what Sam once stood for. The fact that this path – of the one preached by the Lord is the same way you save yourselves from drowning in that Kadal of sin. He surpasses in his motive and never repeats the mistake when he is about to kill one last person – Bergman. He remembers what Beatrice once said to him and calls her that guiding Angel. Even if it was one small moment with a loosely worded statement.

I never had a problem with the religious overtones or its treatment. I definitely think this is not Mani Ratnam’s usual treatment of good vs bad. As popular rumor goes – being a self-professed atheist I can only imagine he had to rely on Jayamohan for this. The screenplay and the questions he asks is very much Maniratnam, for the kid – Thomas doesn’t see his Sagaya Mary as a whore but his mom who deserved a better burial. It didn’t matter if she was good or bad by judgment but by the simple truth.

You may dispute the obviousness in some scenes, pettiness of some of the events or even compare it to Nayagan but I still think this is quintessential Maniratnam.

No – there are no subtexts. Its just plain obvious and that’s probably what we were expecting more from a Maniratnam movie in the first place.

The movie is completely filled with everything else that you’d find in a Maniratnam film. Amazing cinematography, great production values and why not – stellar performances from every one in the film. I especially liked that drunkard who speaks English and asks “Yes or No?”. If we learnt one thing from Ilaiyaraja and Rahman it is this. You either immerse a film with music when there is drama or let the drama play itself and the music taking a back seat. [Remember the famous silent moments from Raaja scores]. This movie is where Rahman just plays along with the drama.

 All these realization came while I was watching Adiye. I expected it to be song in the church with the hero woos the heroine – who is probably religious – in a church by singing a gospel’ish song. But no – slap bang in between dialogues he breaks it into a dance-song sequence making it awkward. But then when you look at the song one cannot stop liking the Balled’ish choreography. A music video ill keep in my cellphone. And to think of it, the story cannot set the song that way. He had to either do away with the songs – in a story that comes with songs/religion or just go the mainstream way. He does and that’s when you know you are looking at what Maniratnam is thinking and not to expect what you are thinking.

After all this is a Mani Ratnam film and not our film.

PS: After thought: Magudi is not about a guy/girl but about the guy and the village. Yes, i am now trying to make some meaning out of Maniratnam clenching a bunch of pencils.


14 thoughts on “Randomly on Kadal

  1. sridharvisu76 says:

    Actually I like your review more than the movie.
    On paper as you state the story, it comes out really better than when i watched the movie.

    yes, beatrice saying “ok, dont do it again” is inspiring.
    yes first opening of movie is impactful
    yes i liked drunkard, ponvannan

    But everyone acted well nu oru vaarthai solliteenga. I dont think tulasi acted well or goutam acted well.
    And Arjun character mesaikkaaran need to show why he is saathaan rather than say that time and again. Karivardhan didnt do much but i realized he is villain and felt strongly in thalapathi.

    Other good moment was when arvind swamy is taken to the top of his church and about to be killed, when accidentally the other guy falls down.

    but these are far and few in between.

    • Sreekrishnan says:

      I thought they acted to the level of what the script asks them to and quite enough for the first time I think.

      Thank you for the compliment And if u thought the story you read here makes sense then I think u must watch it again to see that all these came from the film 🙂

      • Cacofonix says:

        Athukkaaga…you asked me to watch it again…athu periya punishment 🙂

        you might prob be right on gautam…but thulasi…sorry she annoyed me a lot…

        I dont have different understanding of the movie than what you stated…
        But just because I understood this doesnt make this a good movie…

        The story telling was pathetic…your story telling is much better is what I meant…

      • Sreekrishnan says:

        Ha ha .. No I am saying when u get a chance and if u can watch it again. May be it will make sense then. But I agree that it could have been better. May be Mani’s style is different when it comes to rural subjects and we don’t like him as much as we love him make urban stories.
        Example : aayitha ezhuthu .. Guess he handled a complex story telling much better.

        Tell me who else has or could make this story questioning good or bad in this set up any better?

      • Sreekrishnan says:

        And it is sometimes like abstract modern art. U interpret it and you enjoy it.

      • Cacofonix says:

        I am sridharvisu76 and I am cacofonix….sorry i didnt mean to hide behind a new name 🙂 just some wordpress weirdness that i dont understand

  2. sridharvisu76 says:

    i meant “Few and far between” 🙂

  3. Vikram says:

    what is the logic behind nejukulle? hero falls for the girl but in the background the girl sings “nejukulle munijiruken… aasa noi.. koda kambi…” given the fact that the girl is no way connected to the feelings expressed in the lyrics..

    • Sreekrishnan says:

      There is a reason why it is called background score. That narrative of that feeling is for u the viewer. But as you said that narrative may not fit well. The reason being that song was originally convinced for Arjun and Lakshmi Manchu – I hear. So some cuts and forced to use.

      • priya says:

        kadal, a wisely chosen name… i strongly feel that the film is on another level tats y ppl r not able absorb it entirely. ryt from magudi which s abt the subject and his hostile surroundings to anbin vaasale picturised as good triumphs in the end. Gautham has done so well tat i dont know if i cud accept him as any one els but thoma. Thulasi was ‘ok’. but Arvind swamy & Arjun were perfect. dialogues such as “manushangaluku paavam seiya sollikudukarthu easy nadaka solli kudukara maathiri aana nalathu seiya soldrathu paraka solli kudukara maathiri” r hallmarks for Jayamohan. every shade of the sea s so well captured by Rajeev menon, they`v literally filmed the neelam puyal. thoma & bea scenes, each one a kavidhai, al the 7 songs with visuals r the pillars that hold the film high. kadal as the name suggests s turbulent, beautiful and definitely mesmerising. kudos Mani Ratnam 🙂 here is my most fav movie.

      • Sreekrishnan says:

        That’s a mini review by itself .. And among very few people who like it:)

  4. priya says:

    :)… “nenjukulle” song must hav been for bergmans and cherina, but wer did u read it ?

  5. The intentions of the movie are quite obvious. but the way the movie portrayed is where it failed. & script, dialogue is a big let down. Movies were Sujatha wrote the screenplay, dialogues are Janaranjagam type & made quite a mark with all types of people. But JMo’s type of writing is something which needs some work to understand & people didn’t get it in one go because of which the movie failed IMO.

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