Critic’s Rating : / 5
Kalaga Thalaivan Movie Review : An intelligently crafted action thriller
Kalaga Thalaivan Movie Review: If there is one of thing that strikes us instantly about Magizh Thirumeni’s films, it is the smartness in the writing. The premise of the director’s films might not really be new, but he gives a fresh spin to the narrative with intelligent screenplays. In Thadaiyara Thaakka, it was a man running away from gangsters. In Meaghamann, it was about an undercover officer trying to hide his identity. Thadam was a dual-role subject with a twist. And now, in Kalaga Thalaivan, we get a new spin on the evil corporate vs wronged hero premise.
The plot revolves around a corporate behemoth that is trying to trace the source of leaks from its organisation. The owner hires Arjun (Arav), a ruthless hitman, to find out the whistleblower. Meanwhile, we get the love story of Thiru (Udhayanidhi Stalin), a financial analyst with the corporate, and Maithili (Nidhhi Agerwal), a doctor. How is Thiru involved with the leaks and for how long can he evade Arjun?
As he does usually, Magizh Thirumeni doesn’t narrate this story in a linear manner, but flits between the past and present to keep us guessing about his protagonist and his motivations.
He also comes up with smart set-pieces that serve as mini mind games in the larger cat-and-mouse between Thiru and Arjun. In a superbly shot pre-interval stretch set in a railway station, we witness a tense battle of wits as each try to find out the identity of their unknown target. Cinematographer frames the subjects in a way that feels like they are being watched to add to the unpredictability. The director also introduces a red herring in the form of Gandhi (Kalaiyarasan) to add intrigue.
While Arjun’s modus operandi is sort of one-dimensional – using his victim’s families as pawns to get the required information – it is also highly effective, and Thiru’s attempts at protecting his identity also come at a cost. Magizh Thirumeni also ensures that Thiru’s heroism doesn’t come across as over-the-top. In the climax, he gives the hero-taking-down-a-dozen-bad-guys trope a more plausible treatment.
But it is also this very smartness that robs the film of heart. Even though the scenes are filled with tension, like in Sardar, we hardly care for the protagonist and those close to him. We constantly sense the writer’s presence as the way the narrative unfolds doesn’t feel organic.
And in the few instances that we see the protagonist’s smartness slip up, like in a crucial moment when Thiru establishes a connection when he knows that Arjun is hunting him down by finding out any link that leads to him, we start feeling as if it’s the writer who has lost his plot. This is felt even more with Thiru and Maithili’s romantic track, which mainly feels like something that the filmmaker has introduced as a relief to the tense hide-and-seek between the hero and the villain.