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‘Kaalidas’ movie review: Bharath anchors a simple, but effective whodunit

‘Kaalidas’: Bharath in an effective whodunit

‘Kaalidas’: Bharath in an effective whodunit  

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Sri Senthil shows commendable control over his craft, if you excuse the weakly-constructed climax, which has the potential to ruin an otherwise clean thriller

Whodunit thrillers are fun to watch for two reasons: a) the narrative makes even the laziest audience to stop checking their phones and think, and b) you anticipate certain events based on point a), and you try to fit the pieces together. If the vein of a well-made whodunit lies in its ability to convincingly cheat the audience into believing something that’s not the film’s intent, then Kaalidas does that quite decently — pay attention to the title sequence and you’ll notice images of cellphone, lipstick, headphones, pizza, guitar and knife. This makes absolute sense in the end, if you come to think of the preceding events.

Sri Senthil must be a fan of Mysskin. The way he positions his camera angles in the opening scene is certainly Mysskin-esque. There’s a low-angle shot of a woman falling to death. Is it suicide or murder? We don’t know as yet. Neither does Kaalidas (Bharath in a quiet performance) who comes to investigate the case. He senses no foul play at first, but takes note of the scratch marks on her hand. Another woman dies in a similar death. We figure a pattern behind these deaths, but not Kaalidas. His approach to map these events is painstakingly original and unlike Tamil cinema’s ‘Macho Cop’. His work life causes a dent in his equation with his wife Vidhya (a charming Ann Sheetal) — duh, what else do you expect from cop movies?

Kaalidas
  • Cast: Bharath, Ann Sheetal, Suresh Menon and Aadhav Kannadhasan
  • Director: Sri Senthil
  • Storyline: A police officer is brought in for a triple murder case. Is it homicidal, suicidal or accidental?

But the director doesn’t reduce Vidhya to your regular, nagging Tamil cinema wife. She gets to reason out her differences with Kaalidas. She comes across as an educated, independent woman who’s an artiste. There’s a painting that shows twin images, that are distinct in nature. This duality, so to speak, says a lot of Vidhya’s mindspace. Apart from this piece of information, we don’t know much about Vidhya, or her background — perhaps this was intentional on the director’s part, to maintain a low profile from the start. What we know is this: she has lost sleep ever since her marriage. Which is why she says, “Amma veetula dhan ponnunga nimadhiya thoonguvanga,” to a lady who hits her daughter for taking a nap. She, in fact, gives it back to Kaalidas when he talks about her volatile nature. “But what about the domestic violence that takes place inside a police officer’s house,” she asks. Wouldn’t this be enough to get attracted to another man — something that Oru Kuppai Kathai dealt with? That, too, happens here to a large extent when someone, let’s call him Mr X (Aadhav Kannadhasan) enters their life. The movie’s tone changes and prepares you for an affair-gone-wrong story.

Kaalidas gets engaging by stitching these individual plots together, even though the proceedings leading up to the final showdown leave you confused — partly because none of these deaths or characters register. Where Kaalidas scores is also by having the presence of Suresh Menon (playing Asst Commissioner of Police. Although I wished Nasser had played the part.) The director places Suresh Menon as the moral centre of the movie. In the sense, when the movie veers off from political-correctness, you have Suresh’s character flattening its politics. Take this scene, for instance. When Kaalidas indulges in victim-blaming, Suresh corrects him with a simple, “Police eppo moral police aaninga?” This level of balanced perspective is hard to find from a debutante director.

Kaalidas would have still worked, had it stayed true to its initial plot-building exercise. It would have still worked, had it been a serial killer movie. It would have still worked without the absurd twist in the climax, which appears forced. For instance, take Talaash, whose structure is what Sri Senthil tries to ape in Kaalidas — there too, it was about a character suffering from depression over his lost child. Everything was so precise and clear in Reema Kagti’s head that the narrative gave out signs of a disillusioned protagonist from the beginning. That’s why we bought into Rosie’s (Kareena Kapoor) spiritual presence. That’s why we bought ‘Jiya Lage Na’. That’s why the pay-off was satisfactory. Here, not so much.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 6:21:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/kaalidas-movie-review-bharath-anchors-a-simple-but-effective-whodunit/article30298208.ece

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