Naan Kadavul Movie Review
Review by : Behindwoods Movie Review Board
Starring: Arya, Pooja.
Direction: Bala.
Music: Ilayaraja
Production: Vasans Visual Ventures.
After three years in the making, Bala’s Naan Kadavul has finally hit screens bringing along with it tremendous expectations of a film that can potentially make us relive the magic that is synonymous with his works. Naan Kadavul, the title tells you a lot, it is about a man who believes that he is the Almighty and confers upon himself the right to decide the death and rebirth or otherwise of a soul. A complex concept and it requires a craftsman of Bala’s accomplishment and persistence to execute it. The film explores a world and people that are largely unknown
  Naan Kadavul

to most of us. It is hard to even imagine that such a world of misery and despair does exist very close to us; more than being hard to imagine, it is hard to believe. Do such things really happen in the world around us?

Looking straight into the lives of people who have to beg for a living, Naan Kadavul takes what one might call a brutal view of the existence that they are forced to lead. What forces them to lead such a miserable life? One, it is their circumstances and their helplessness; second, it is a mafia of sorts being run by a heinous group of people indulging in human trade. We are made to feel the pain and distress in their lives. There are scenes that can make you squirm in your seats, literally. Now, where does an Aghori sanyasi from the holy terrains of Kasi fit into such a plot? It is a lot like the return of the prodigal son to his fold after years of alienation. But here the son who has returned is not repentant but is foul mouthed, conceited and unapproachable. But, in spite of all the repulsiveness that he exudes, there is also an air of mysticism about him. Largely unconcerned about what happens around him, he smokes weed, chants mantras in a different language, does death defying yoga poses, blows the conch and does many more things that increase the mystery about him. But as if by Almighty’s design, he destroys the evil men. You might feel that the pace is slack in the first half, but don’t lose heart, things pick up considerably in the second.

That is the story in a nutshell, but there is more to the movie than just the storyline. In fact, the story seems to be of secondary importance to the depiction of unsavory and disturbing realities. Bala has created a world of misery where cruel men make the rules. But, it looks like he was not sure as to where to draw the line. The dungeon like setting, the mutilated people (you see people with all kinds of deformities), the sharp and crude words used and the animal like treatment meted out to them take a toll on the viewer very early in the movie. It looks like the director wanted to leave a lump in your throat but ends up giving you an uneasy stomach. The movie can be analyzed at length if necessary, but it is suffice to say that Bala’s signature shines through at all places. His attention for detail, the painstaking picturisation, the raw and original stunts are all there. And, even in the midst of such depressing nothingness he manages to infuse some very natural and likeable humor, treading a very thin line. It helps to liven up the atmosphere a bit. But the end feeling is that he got too obsessed with depicting the cruelties inflicted on the beggars by their ‘owners’ which does not help the final product.

Performances! In a Bala film, you expect the actors to be at their best. Surprisingly, for all the hype, Arya does not have that much of screen time though he does make an impact whenever he appears. He doesn’t have much to work with though. He has always got the same stoic expression, uttering the same intonations and striking the same poses. But getting to maintain that demeanor is not easy and he has worked hard to do it which can be seen. Pooja as a blind beggar touches us when she first appears, but the feeling soon wears off. Nevertheless, she has maintained a consistent feeling of pathos putting in considerable effort into her performance. The disabled and mutilated people, who should have been picked straight out of real life, live their lives on screen. But the real surprise packet of the film is the comedian Krishnamoorthy, who has been previously known only for his capers with Vadivelu. He turns out a really well etched performance. All credit to Bala for spotting the serious actor in him.

Technically speaking the movie is high on production values. Be it the townscape of Kasi or the rustic temple environs or the dark dungeons, the images have been captured well. Ilayaraja’s music surprisingly doesn’t make one sit up and take notice, mostly because it is gelled neatly into the narrative. Dialogues by Jayamohan are few but very crisp and one feels that he had an influence in the way actors and an actress of the current generation are mercilessly bashed about in a scene. And, if you think that the movie is set mostly in Kasi then you are wrong, it is hardly around for 10 minutes.

Bala has tried to debate a few serious issues in the movie. The first is obviously about who is God? He also talks about life and death and how death is actually a boon to one who cannot lead a good life. Summing up, Naan Kadavul is not a movie that everyone can digest. It shows reality in such brutality that you wonder whether such things really do happen. It cannot be called violent; the word ‘brutal’ has to be repeated often to describe the movie. One feels the director could have toned it down a bit, it leaves one very disturbed. And, it is hard to believe that the censors passed this movie with a U/A, it is difficult to see how children can be expected to digest such fare which at times borders on the gory. Even adults would need a tough mind to endure this movie. It will make you squirm, cringe, nod and laugh in alternation. Don’t’ expect a regular entertainer, be prepared to get jolted.

Verdict: Brutal depiction of a world unknown

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