After the successful flight of the frail and pint-sized Mynaa, Prabu Solomon tracks a mammoth beast in Kumki (U). A pachyderm in a title role is unheard of and hence interesting. Solomon’s latest outing provides a fresh milieu, highlights the lifestyle of a hill tribe we know little about, introduces a hero who shows promise, and presents a cute heroine. Manickam, the elephant, is seen throughout the film, and in true intrepid style, vanquishes the bad in the climax. Yet once Solomon’s story shifts focus and begins to flow through a terrain of ardent love the elephant seems to get relegated to the background.

Vikram, the new entrant, makes an impact with effective underplay. Solomon brings out the bond between the creature and Bomman (Vikram), the mahout, so well that we understand the empathy they share. It’s a noteworthy debut for a beginner and Prabhu Junior has utilised the opportunity commendably. Without flexing his muscles or pulverising a dozen henchmen with one stroke, Vikram shows that he’s hero material.

The apt expressions that dance on Lakshmi Menon’s face send the clear signal that a heroine who can perform has arrived.

Mynaa won him the coveted National Award and Thambi Ramaiah lives up to the reputation in Kumki. But his asides and one-liners are ever so many that after a point they appear contrived. The role of Undiyal that Ashwin plays should garner enough notice for the actor who earlier drew attention in Boss Engira Baskaran.

Junior Balaiah surprised viewers with a subdued show in Saatai. He returns to prove his potential to transcend the level of merely aping his father, veteran T. S. Balaiah. Solomon’s choice of Joe Malluri for the strong role of Mathayaan is laudable. An actor to watch out for!

The songs are chartbusters and Imman must be a happy composer. His RR and the telling silences in between are worthy of appreciation.

Sukumar’s lens takes you through the dense forest, serenading waterfalls and simple hamlet with such aesthetics that you sit mesmerised by Nature’s beauty. But the CG department could have worked harder at certain points to make matters more realistic.

Two aspects of Kumki irk. Firstly, it’s unforgivable that the protagonist is so hopelessly blinded by love that he puts the lives of his near and dear ones in jeopardy. Secondly, the uncle (Thambi Ramaiah) who is constantly raving and ranting about the imminent danger to their lives, and prays that his nephew realises the futility of the romance, does an enigmatic turnabout when the young man actually begins to see sense! Narration loses its grip at this point. Also, the elephant placing its trunk on Bomman’s hand as if to promise that he would mend his ways, is too outdated. It transports you to the decade of MMA. Chinnappa Thevar’s films when elephants behaved like humans, a la MGR’s Nalla Neram, Rajesh Khanna’s Haathi Mere Saathi, and Rajnikanth’s Annai Oru Aalayam.

Dialogue in the initial stages is a giveaway — you can guess what’s in store for the mahout and his team.

The docile, domesticated Manickam is forced to take on a rogue elephant. The challenge and the aftermath alone should have formed the story, but the digression to love zone changes matters. Yet if the film doesn’t sag, credit goes to the screenplay. Kumki’s glitches are momentary. Take a look.

Kumki

Genre: Romance

Director: Prabu Solomon

Cast: Vikram Prabhu, Lakshmi Menon, Thambi Ramaiah

Storyline: When the hero takes his elephant on an assignment to safeguard the crops of a hill tribe from the atrocities of a rogue elephant, little does he know the danger that’s lurking in the forest …

Bottomline: Neat attempt in Nature’s company