Film: Kalavaadiya Pozhudhugal
Director: Thangar Bachchan
Cast: Prabhudheva, Bhumika, Prakash Raj, Inbanila, Sathyaraj
Watching Thangar Bachchan’s long-delayed film, Kalavaadiya Pozhuthugal, I found myself getting teleported to the late nineties when raw melodrama was a genre staple. And this feeling of déja vu, after some time, started to define every passing frame, to the extent that even the film’s sparse standout moments didn’t seem special. I was left with only one question as the film whimpered its way to the climax. Is there any art form that wears the sensibilities and idiosyncrasies of that particular decade on its sleeve more prominently than cinema? If I had to make a case for it, Kalavaadiya Pozhudhugal would be my Exhibit A.
Right from the opening shot where the camera arcs over a water expanse to the introduction of the lead characters, and the ensuing build-up, to the conflict, everything is in keeping with the era in which the film is set in. The story, about ex-lovers bumping into each other after their respective marriages, isn’t entirely new either. Many of the scenes which centre around the subsequent marital contradictions, despite seeming like a direct rehash from the director’s earlier films, leave behind far-from-desired effects.
The flashback framing device that Thankar uses to drive home the intensity of the lead pair’s romance is plain archaic. And even the supposed twists, for want of nifty staging, end up testing our patience.
To make things worse, Thankar keeps shifting between being a filmmaker and pamphleteer. And if you are someone who catches a shut eye in the theatres, you could, in fact, wake up to a different film.
And amid all these distractions, it is to the credit of the four actors (playing the two couples), that a couple of moments strike a chord, mainly on account of some sincere performances. Prakashraj, playing a rich businessman and the husband of the female lead, single-handedly redeems a lot of the caricatured relationship dynamics. Inbanila, playing the naive wife, takes up a hackneyed part and does unexpected things with it.
But all these get lost in the endless sea of anachronism. The most unintentionally hilarious reminder of the film’s obsolescence comes halfway into the film when one central character hands over a bundle of notes, and the other exclaims “Naanlaam aayiram rooba notelaam paathadey illama!” The theatre erupted in unison, “Naangalum daan!”