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‘Kaappaan’ movie review: A colossal misfire for Suriya

Suriya tries his best to save ‘Kaappaan’ from being a total wreck

Suriya tries his best to save ‘Kaappaan’ from being a total wreck   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

KV Anand’s latest collaboration with his favourite leading man is a painstakingly long thriller, that neither has soul nor brain

In Skyfall, James Bond and his associate, a lady, pursue an assassin on a moving train. Their boss M orders her to take a blind shot at the assassin. She takes a hit, but misses the target and shoots Bond instead. He falls into a river from the railway bridge, with Adele’s soulful song Skyfall playing in the background. This bombastic scene — which sends chills down our spines and ushers in a nail-biting thriller — is a classic example of how an opening sequence should be, especially in a big, dumb action movie such as the Bond series or any recent Tom Cruise-starrer.

Kaappaan however begins with a weakly-conceived and executed (Anand has written it along with Patukottai Prabhakaran) ‘hero introduction’ scene, as a counter-measure to invert the sequence in Skyfall. Suriya (it is sad that the actor gives his life for a soulless film. Every. Single. Time) is air-dropped onto a moving train and we see him planting a series of bombs on it. Before the bomb explodes, he pulls off a Bond-esque stunt and plunges into a river, with a flashback slide that says: “A few months back”. This spectacularly generic scene is a prelude to a spectacularly generic route Kaappaan takes — it can hardly be seen as a movie, but a heady collection of newsreels and think pieces on a spectrum of socio-political issues that have happened in the State and Centre, ever since one ideology won over the country’s population.

The farmers’ issue is the hottest sub-genre in Tamil cinema, and has become an easy gateway for filmmakers to inculcate random in-your-face messages. Thanks to the NGK hangover, Suriya plays organic farmer Kathiravan here. This means, there will be a fourth-wall-breaking scene, challenging the audience to imagine a life without farmers. There are a couple in Kaappaan. Kathiravan also works with an intelligence agency and at one point, is suspected of being a double agent. There is a hint that he is an assassin hired by militant groups operating in Pakistan, to target the Prime Minister of India, Chandrakanth Varma (Mohanlal, in a one-dimensional character). Confusing much? Later, it is revealed that he is, indeed, a special agent who will take a bullet for the Prime Minister — duh, as if we hadn’t figured it by now.

Kaappaan (Tamil)
  • Cast: Suriya, Mohanlal, Sayyeeshaa, Arya, Samuthirakani and Poorna
  • Director: KV Anand
  • Storyline: A farmer-turned-special agent-turned-SPG officer has to protect the Prime Minister of India from a double-agent-turned-rogue-turned-militant

Chandrakanth Varma’s life is at stake and we see him miraculously escaping every murderous plot. But what is the rationale behind the unsuccessful attempts on him? We don’t know. If someone were to assassinate him, it should be for his idealistic principles and having a shallow understanding of the Kashmir issue, religious and caste politics. Take this for instance, Varma delivers a keynote address in London, where he espouses his belief about thaai naadu (motherland) and anniya naadu (foreign land). The latter is like a wife; we develop a love-hate relationship with it. But, thaai naadu is like our mother. No matter what the situation, we never fail to “love and respect our mother”. His own words, not mine. Varma’s half-Tamil and full-Malayalam accent makes you wonder about his thaai naadu.

In Britain too, the PM misses a strike on his life, thanks to our saviour Kathir. As a follow-up to this, the PM’s secretary Anjali (Sayyeshaa) suspects Kathir of his actions. She follows him, who, in turn, follows the supposed assassin and they all land up in a restrobar — it gives an impression of a strip club, though. Suspense builds, but belittles the effect. She gets high on two glasses of red wine and wonders if Kathir is part of the terrorist squad. He thinks ‘what is wrong with this girl?’. And we think: ‘Whatever they are drinking, it must be good stuff’. Kathir gets promoted to the PM’s SPG and tries to be a 'kaappaan' for everything that is wrong in society.

Suspense is like the arteries, veins and kidneys for a movie that purportedly centres on agents and agencies. But the actual suspense in Kaappaan is: how bad can the next scene be? KV Anand has positioned himself as the Tamil equivalent of the dynamic duo Abbas-Mustan. You know there will be a surprise twist in his movies. Here, the twists arrive at a point where the audience would have even guessed the plotline of Anand’s next film.

Tamil filmmakers are so bent on making ‘woke’ movies. The problem with Kaappaan is, Anand constructs scenes based on real-life incidents without stitching them together. There is no correlation between the previous and the corresponding scene, and it comes across like news tickers. My favourite portion in the movie involves Abishek (Arya), who plays Varma’s son. He is an uber-cool guy who sits in the Prime Minister’s chair with a Starbucks coffee in hand — a necessary reminder that it’s okay to take things in a lighter vein.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 10:59:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/kaappaan-movie-review-a-colossal-misfire-for-suriya/article29468958.ece

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