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"Kadhal" ... refreshing cast.

A POIGNANT shift in a young husband's attitude to life and the overriding humaneness of the climax are features that set S Pictures' "Kadhal" (U/A) apart, from the otherwise run of the mill story of calf love, elopement and the consequences thereof. Balaji Saktivel (story, screenplay, dialogue and direction) deserves full credit for the differently conceived drama in the end, where very little is actually said — the body language conveys it all.

Murugan (Bharat) is a diligent scooter mechanic in Madurai and life goes on smoothly for the young man till the rich schoolgirl Aishwarya (Sandhya) sets her eyes on him. The infatuation reaches dangerous levels when she coaxes Murugan to take her away from the clutches of her family, which has other plans about her future. The naοve Murugan hesitantly yields to her charm and the two run away to Chennai. Murugan's friend Stephen (Sukumar) helps them in the hour of crisis and the lovers unite in marriage. But her family is not going to give up so easily on the daughter they dote on .

An all-new team

The fact that everyone, except the hero (one of the "Boys," who was more recently seen in "Chellamae" and "Four The People") and Sukumar are new faces, lends freshness and authenticity to the cast. It is as though you are watching a real-life happening unfold before your eyes. Bharat's underplayed heroism is impressive and his plight later on is touching. "Kadhal," produced by Shankar, should prove a significant break for him. Looking almost vulnerable and right out of school, Sandhya tackles the role that expects her to convey myriad expressions, quite well. The turbulence she causes in the life of Murugan and the sheer recklessness of her acts angers you no end. But probably it could be an eye-opener for immature teenagers who think love and marriage are achievements in themselves. The role of Stephen is by far the most solid role that has come Sukumar's way and it is to his credit that he has come out with a convincing performance.

Though Balaji Saktivel informs viewers that "Kadhal" is based on a true story, he deserves appreciation for etching all the characters, big and small, with care. The ruthless father of Aishwarya, Rajendran (Dandapani) is stereotypical no doubt but for a first time film actor he is noteworthy. An appealing foil for the quick tempered Rajendran is his brother Vellaiyan (Krishnamurthy) who is calm and sensible though equally villainous. You cannot easily forget the small boy Arun Kumar, who looks every inch a mechanic's assistant. His reactions (the way he cringes thinking he is about to be beaten when Murugan comes near him to bid farewell and the forlorn look that he gives as he runs behind Murugan who has already left, speak a lot about the character, and the director who created it.) Neither can you forget the constantly chattering old woman of the household, Aishwarya's grandmother (Amsavalli) or for that matter Sathya (Charanya), Aishwarya's classmate who looks every inch a Brahmin school girl. Lastly the Madurai dialect also helps make "Kadhal" a different experience.

There are a whole lot of technicians too who make worthy contributions in their debut — composer Joshua Sridhar, editor G. Sasikumar and art director K. Veerasamar. Joshua Sridhar's songs are a highlight. "Thottu Thottu, " "Kiru Kiru" and "Unakkena Iruppaen" are appealing. The title song in Haricharan's mesmerising voice is also one such. Rerecording is sonorous and effective. Be it the narrow lanes, dingy rooms, cluttered roads or the green groves S. D. Vijay Milton's camera tellingly captures the mood and the ambience. Veerasamar's art is another major plus.

The entire story hinges on the final scene and that is where Balaji Saktivel scores. This is the director's second film. What "Samurai" couldn't achieve for him even with Vikram in the lead, "Kadhal" should. Because Balaji has pinned all his hopes on a well conceived script and a finale that makes you applaud.


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