Critic’s Rating : 3.0 / 5
Kaduva Movie Review : A thriller without spark
Every once in a while, it’s quite fun to watch a ‘mass’ thriller. It’s our modern version of the morality tale with a clear triumph of the good over bad, greys be damned. It provides a cathartic joy for audiences to see the antagonist gradually get his comeuppance. And in this post-pandemic period, we can certainly do with that.
Shaji Kailas returns to Malayalam after a gap with the sort of genre he is best at. But the difference between Kaduva and Kailas’s 90s hits such as Ekalavyan and Commissioner, or any of those kind of revenge films from the period, such as Bhoomiyile Rajakkanmar or Dhruvam, is that when the hero gets back at the antagonist, it is by setting deliciously clever traps, smooth or bombastic dialogue and a few punches. Kaduva, written by Jinu V Abraham, is more brawn than brain.
The film has been embroiled in court cases in the past couple of years, with a Jose Kuruvinakunnel claiming that the film is defamatory to himself and his family. Case notwithstanding, the film tells the story of Kaduvakunnel Kuriyachan (Prithviraj), a Pala planter, in the 90s, who ends up on a coalition course with IG Joseph Chandy (Vivek Oberoi), a top cop who is politically favoured. What starts as a misunderstanding over a piano gifted to the local church, where a wayward priest has been posted, slowly develops into a fight that grows bigger and bigger, even as the protagonist ends up in jail. How he gets the better of the IG, a local SI (Kalabhavan Shajohn) and the priest, forms the rest of the story.
‘For all its faults, misogyny and over the top machismo, Shaji Kailas’s earlier movies always had entertainment value. They were fast paced, had characters that were excitingly, emotionally volatile and again, the hero’s retributive fight back was fun to watch. That is sadly missing here; thankfully even the misygyny. Joseph Chandy, SI Dominic and Fr Robin attack Kuriyachan on all fronts in the first half and it keeps us engrossed, because we can’t wait to see how he will get back at them, but if you were expecting a smooth, clever destruction, the second half will leave you disappointed.
It starts out with some clever political manipulation which is interesting, but finally ends in punches, which feels like a letdown. And at 155 minutes and all the slo-mo, it gets tiring as well towards the end. Some things – like when Kuriyachan’s neighbouring plot is converted into a cremation ground – are not even later addressed.
Prithviraj is good in the role of Kuriyachan; he conveys a good mix of power and geniality, and makes you root for the character. Vivek Oberoi is apt as the antagonistic IG and Shajon is perfect as the villainous, petty SI. The supporting cast of Alencier, Baiju and Rahul Madhav, among others, are good in their roles. Samyuktha Menon is eye candy, and in fact Seema, in a small role, has more powerful moments on screen. Abinandhan Ramanujam’s camerawork is beautifully striking at some points, such after a prison fight and in capturing a drive through a plantation.
If you are in the mood for a Prithviraj mass thriller, you might enjoy the movie, but don’t expect to be wow-ed.