‘KD Engira Karuppudurai’ review: The heartfelt storyline and perfect casting leave a smile on your face

‘KD Engira Karuppudurai’: A friendly reminder that mainstream Tamil cinema can throw out a curveball when you least expect it   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

There is a poignant moment in one of the opening scenes of KD Engira Karuppudurai. The family of an ailing 80-year-old man is discussing the merits of killing him (read as: the illegal practice of Thalaikoothal) over having to spend their time and money for his care.

Unbeknownst to the family, the elderly man, Karuppudurai (Madhumita finds a perfect fit in Mu Ramaswamy), overhears the conversation, and decides to leave the house. Nobody expects him to walk away because, barely a minute ago, the characters inform us that he had been bedridden for the last three months. When a child runs out and interrupts the family’s discussion to declare, “Thatha poitaaru”, they assume that the old man had passed. The greed for wealth is such that one of Karuppudurai’s sons dart to the cupboard and retrieves the will to get a thumb imprint before even bothering to check on his father.


It is this simple premise — that of a man and his strong will to live, and his family’s even stronger will to kill him — which sets the ball rolling in KD...

Away from home, Karuppudurai stumbles his way into the life of Kutty (Naga Vishal), a spirited eight-year-old full of clever retorts. Kutty is a destitute like Karuppudurai; he calls a temple his home after he was abandoned at its door step as a two-day old baby. The influence Kutty goes on to have in Karuppudurai’s life (in one particularly funny scene, the wise old man learns how to take life easy from the boy), and the fun journey they embark on forms the rest of the plot.

KD... is a friendly reminder that mainstream Tamil cinema can throw out a curveball when you least expect it. It is another thing altogether that such films are incomparable to the mediocrities that choke theatres every Friday.

What works in the movie’s favour is the no-frills story line. The interactions between the two lead characters seldom appear staged or forced, and that is a compliment for Naga Vishal’s acting efficacy. The child artiste lives his character through the lines he speaks; in every moment in the film it is only Kutty, and not the actor behind him, who shines through.

Ramaswamy, as Karuppudurai, is infectious. The mutton biryani sequence at the eatery is an example. It takes an artiste confident in his skin to infuse enthusiasm, as Ramaswamy does, into a scene as mundane as watching someone eat food. It also helps that the character is of an elderly and hapless man; it adds an element of relatability for the viewers who want to sympathise at his plight.

KD Engira Karuppudurai
  • Director: Madhumita
  • Cast: Mu Ramaswamy, Naga Vishal, Yog Japee
  • Storyline: An 80-year-old man gives his family the slip after he overhears their plans to kill him (Thalaikoothal). He meets a sprightly eight-year-old along the way, and, with the latter’s help, the elderly man embarks upon the journey of his lifetime

The film also makes for easy viewing. It is credit to the writing team that the screenplay allows for genuinely funny moments to spring out at the viewer. At some point, you find yourself laughing along with the characters on screen, and that is when you realise the smile has been there on your face all along. The dialogues play a huge role in helping retain that smile a while longer.

KD... is also about the conflicts Ramaswamy’s titular character grapples with, and two scenes summarise it in a nutshell.

The first: As he knocks off one more item on his bucket list of to-do things (which is to ride a two-wheeler with his best friend in the pillion seat), Karuppudurai is reminded that he should make a decision (of whether or not to return home to his family) keeping the best interests of his children in mind. Karuppudurai responds: “That is what I’ve done all my life”. The old man’s desire to live out the last few days of his life on his own accord, while doing things he has always wanted to do hits you squarely.

The second: When he realises that his family is close to tracking him down, and that if he is taken back home imminent death awaits him, the anxiety writ large on Karuppudurai’s face tells its own tale. He has grown possessive of Kutty by this point, and considers him to be his family over his actual family members.

The issue of Thalaikoothal is only used as a narrative element; the filmmaker refrains from digging deep into the infamous culture. However, the influence that it has on Ramaswamy’s character arc is felt throughout, especially the sequence in Courtallam as Karuppudurai watches old men being given an oil bath by the waterfalls.

Madhumita’s frames are also interesting. There is nothing standout but it is just adequate for the narrative that the film espouses (a well-lit frame in the railway station where Karuppudurai bids Kutty goodbye is bound to catch your eye).

What stands out is that the film is hardly boring. Two hours of run time, but KD..’s neatly packaged narrative delivers with a punch the story of a simple, everyday man’s life.

This fact needs to be highlighted considering how filmmakers of considerable repute, and with dozens of millions to spend on production, have failed miserably in this aspect recently.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 12:50:07 AM |

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