Yet another scion from thespian Sivaji Ganesan’s family dons the grease paint. Vikram Prabhu (son of actor Prabhu) debuts in ‘Kumki’, a film centered on a man, his elephant and his girl. The actor fits in aptly, his rugged look suiting the role of the rural youth, sharing a deep bonding with his elephant. More comfortable in expressing intense emotions, he, however, seems stiff and inhibited in the romantic interludes and song-dance numbers. He needs to loosen himself, especially in the film’s lighter moments.
Like the director’s earlier film (Myna), this one too is set against a rural backdrop, amidst an exotic landscape. One would have expected the debutant’s introduction scene to be a flashy, in-your-face one. Instead, he has a mild opening scene. The story opens where a village frequently ravaged by Komban, a rogue elephant, decides to get a Kumki (an elephant trained to drive away wild elephants) to their village. Circumstances bring Bomman and his elephant Manickam to the village, the residents mistakenly believing that the duo would protect them from Komban. Bomman falls for the comely daughter (Lakshmi) of the village chief. But soon he realises that he has put everyone’s life in jeopardy. The emotional bonding between Bomman and his elephant, companions since childhood, is hardly conveyed. It’s Bomman’s uncle (Ramaiah) who seems more comfortable with Manickam. In fact Ramaiah gets so much screen space that the rest are nudged to the sidelines. But with just a few of his scenes really working on the humour quotient, its wasted space. Lakshmi (of ‘Sundarapandyan’), an actress of emotional caliber, hardly gets a chance to display her talent. The story-telling moves at a snail’s pace, Sukumar’s camera meanwhile panning the landscape, waterfall, mountains and the forests around. But having seen it all in the director’s earlier film, this offers no refreshing visuals. The forest officers with their own agenda play their villainy half-heartedly. The climax falls flat. The villain of the piece - the dreaded Komban - takes his own time to make his appearance. Meanwhile there is no conflict, nor anything else exciting happening in the village. And when the much-awaited face-off between the two elephants happens, it’s an insipid, rushed through ‘graphic’ finale. ‘Kumki’ is a tame affair!