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Kaadhal - Movie Review

Indian movies with a commercial eye, in most cases revolve around adolescent youths in love, for the theme not only attracts the college kids who form the bulk of movie revenue, but also offers a lot of scope for songs, fights and sentiments which are the ingredients of movie masala. Before the lights went off in the theatre, I thought it could be one of those 'one-of-those' movies for the debut writer-director, who has chosen the safe route. I was wrong.

Kaadhal, allegedly based on a true story, makes strong observations about the instability of adolescent love, it's directionless movements, and the deep-rooted hypocrisies of caste-status based marriages over love. The first half beautifully captures the nuances of teenage romance between Murugan , a motorcycle mechanic and Iswarya, a high school student, only daughter of a local don. Unlike a lesser movie, the situations are believable, people are smart, and there's hardly a wrong step. Clandestine meetings on the outskirts of the town and masking the face with a helmet inside the town, Iswarya and Murugan grow close without any forethoughts of their family backgrounds. When Iswarya's parents decide to get her married to their relative, out of fear they elope to Chennai from Madurai.

The second half features a few unwanted characters developments that pulls the level of the movie from great to good. Most of the post-interval session transpires within 48 hours, starting with the couple's running away from their homes. Murugan and Iswarya seek a friend's help in Chennai to get married and start their life. The first day in Chennai elaborates on the difficulties involved in their hunt for a house, and very subtly expresses Murugan's love and support for Iswarya. On the second day, they get married (again, through a chain of believable events) and Murugan starts his work as a mechanic at a local workshop. Iswarya's uncle, who also happens to be her father's right hand in their mafia operations, intensely searches for her and finally figures out her location in Chennai. His uncle sugarcoats his words and invites the couple for a formal wedding. The climax, which I won't reveal, is bittersweet and kind of left me scratching my head.

Although the story sounds like any other 'rich-girl poor-boy against-the-society' love story, it is the treatment of events, subtle directorial moments (Balaji Sakthivel), supporting cast (entirely new to screen), music (Joshua Sridhar), photography (Vijay Milton) and above-average production values (Shankar) that set this movie apart. The second half digresses with a totally unwanted sub-plot which relates to Stephen, (Murugan's friend who helps the couple in their wedding) and his room-mates. Added to this, there is a marriage song which applies brakes on the momentum of the screenplay. Of the supporting cast, Iswarya's confidant - her class-mate, and Murugan's confidant - a small boy at his workshop play a very breezy role and contribute to the funny moments of the movie.

The action from the lead is top class. Bharath is still a neophyte and Sandhya in her first film have essentially put many lead actors/actresses of today to shame. There was not a single scene where I thought these two overdid than what was required of them. Great performances by them and kudos to the director for extracting such top quality work. The recent breed of romance stories were filled with trashy story, crass direction, vulgar comedies and laughable performances. Kaadhal is the kind of movie I would like to show to the producers of such movies.

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