Cast and Crew:
Starring: Vijay, Asin Thottumkal, Rajkiran, Roja Selvamani, Vadivelu
Producer: C. Romesh Babu
Lyricis: Pa. Vijay, Yugabharathy, Vivega, Kabilan
Cinematographer: N. K. Ekambaram
Editor: Gowri Shankar
Studio: Ekaveera Creations
Distributed by: Cinema Paradise
It played hide and seek on Friday when all other Pongal releases arrived and it wasn’t even sure whether it would make it to theaters on Saturday. After facing many troubles from different sides, Kavalan finally hit the theaters. Coming at a time when Vijay is at a bit of a crossroad regarding the path he has to choose further in his career, Kavalan is crucial even while not being a grand venture.
Kavalan , remake of the Malayalam film Bodyguard, brings together the successful duo of Vijay and Siddique once again, not to mention the hit Vijay-Asin combination. Coming from Siddique, the man who gave us Friends, the expectations is of a Vijay starrer that would be rather different from the ones we have been offered lately. Kavalan is an emotionally narrated love story about a righteous and innocent man who is assigned the task of being a young woman’s bodyguard. He puts full faith and confidence in anything that he does; his love story too blossoms because of these qualities. But, unwittingly, the faith that he shows is taken advantage of in a way that no one would imagine. It is not with malice or any villainy that this is done; but out of love and admiration towards such an innocent person. It is love and destiny that play hero and villain in this story of relationships. The movie also subtly tells us that it is never good to leave things untold for too long in love.
Kavalan is redemption of sorts for Vijay – the actor. For the past couple of years or more, a lot of Tamil movie buffs have watched in dismay as he slipped further and further into a quagmire of senseless commercialism; sometimes not keeping up with the trend of change in the industry. But, Kavalan is a reminder to all of us, most importantly to many directors in the industry, that he can act; not just as the ‘savior hero’ or messiah of the masses, but as a person who feels love, happiness, sorrow and all other emotions. For the first time in a few years, a Vijay film is not only about its hero, but about the characters and relationships.
That is about Kavalan with respect to Vijay. But, how has the film shaped up otherwise? Its a fairly engaging, relatable, simple and sweet story of love which has an unexpected twist and an emotionally charged climax. Nothing that goes remotely close to commercial formulae, has been added here; which does not mean that this is an offbeat or art-house film. It is an entertainer all right; but one which looks to engage you more through the interplay of characters rather than grandeur. Shot and narrated with simplicity, it leaves you with a warm feeling in the heart because the director makes you empathize with the characters. At no point does the consistency of characterization get abandoned in an attempt to provide a few extra laughs or thrills. Fights, a couple, look every bit reasonable and comedy handled by Vadivelu and Vijay, puts a smile on your face but fails to make you burst out with laughter. On the flipside, the length of the film might work against it. It starts and keeps moving at a consistent pace (generally considered slow on the commercial scale) and never really accelerates. The final hour in particular would have looked much crisper with a bit of trimming. Even with very well conceived emotional scenes well enacted by the cast, one does feel a bit tired. A couple of songs towards the end too could have been better placed or even avoided.
This is a script which gives actors a lot of room to emote. Vijay has grabbed the chance with both hands. One wonders if it was his decision to stay away from ‘down to earth’ characters all these years, or the compulsions from a commercially driven industry. Kavalan is a throwback to the ‘Thulladha Manamum Thullum’ days of Vijay and we hope the days are here to stay. He has lived the character. Asin, in Tamil for the first time after Dasavatharam, convinces us with her portrayal. The chemistry of the lead pair has worked out well; especially the portions where Asin tries various ways to exasperate Vijay; things that ultimately result in love. Vadivelu evokes smiles and the occasional laugh. The rest of the cast including the experienced Raj Kiran and Roja add weight to the movie.
Camera, editing and all technical departments have adhered strictly to the requirements of the movie. Two compositions of Vidhyasagar make you hum along. Director Siddique shows excellent command over proceedings right through the movie.
Overall, Kavalan is a movie that defies all the preset notions of a Vijay starrer that have been built over the last couple of years. It is his return to the romantic hero mould and also a call to all directors of the industry to stop pre-meditating ‘over the top’ scripts for him. A relatable love story shot in a cute and simple manner, rich with emotions, but on the slow side of narration. Yes, there is nothing special, but nothing to grumble about either!