Balachander and Bharatiraja are probably the only two old school directors still
active in Tamil cinema. KB's skills seemed a bit rusty when viewing the disappointing
Paarthaale Paravasam , where he attempted to
appeal to a different segment of the audience. But with Kadal Pookkal, Bharatiraja
proves that his directorial skills have not deserted him just yet. He puts
the memory of Taj Mahal firmly behind him with
this tale of friendship, love and betrayal among fishermen in his favorite
coastal town, Muttam (both Kadalora Kavidhaigal and Alaigal Oivadhillai,
two of his big hits, were set there).
Kadal Pookkal was launched with great fanfare by Bharatiraja, who promised that
viewers would see the Bharatiraja of old with this movie. Luckily for us, he seems to
have delivered on that promise. Through his camera, he brings Muttam alive before our
eyes, giving us the feeling of 'being there' and watching the daily lives of the
fishermen unfold before our eyes. But the movie has taken an inordinate amount of time
to reach the big screen. It was completed a long time back and won for Bharatiraja,
last year's National Award for Best Screenplay. But inspite of this, it was finally
released only last December.
Karuthaiya(Murali) and Peter(Manoj) are fishermen and the best of friends. Both of
them shower affection on their sisters though the sisters themselves harbor vastly
different aspirations about their futures. Karuthaiya's sister Kayal(Uma) develops
feelings for Peter while Peter's sister Mariam(Sindhu) dreams of a rich life away
from the town and falls for a young man(Shyam Ganesh) from the city. But the youth
dumps her after impregnating her. When Karuthaiya asks Peter to marry his sister,
Peter in turn asks Karuthaiya to wed Mariam. Karuthaiya is shellshocked by this
betrayal of their friendship since he knows of Mariam's affair with the young man.
For the sake of his sister, Karuthaiya agrees to wed her, sacrifing his own love for
Bharatiraja's storytelling skills are evident in Kadal Pookkal as he juggles
several aspects like romance, friendship, one-sided love and betrayal with skill.
The movie is well constructed and nicely paced as it starts off in a leisurely
manner with three romances of different natures before linking them together. While
it does not contain any sudden twists or surprises, the above proceedings and other
complications(like Murali suggesting that Santhanabharathy make Manoj his son-in-law)
manage to keep us absorbed and wondering about what will happen next.
Bharatiraja has always had a knack with young romances and though romance is not the
chief emotion here, there are some nice touches in the the two main love stories -
the playful but heartfelt love shared by Murali and Pratyuksha as well as the unspoken,
one-sided love Uma has for Manoj. The seaside meeting between Murali and Pratyuksha,
with the earrings her makes for her, is one of the well-handled scenes with the
later depiction of the pain they feel being a very nice touch. And it is appreciable
that Bharatiraja never allows caste or religion to enter the equations though the
protagonists do belong to different religions.
The movie develops nicely as it proceeds. Important scenes(like Manoj's request
to Murali to wed his sister and Murali's shocked reaction) are handled well.
Sentiments are not overdone and there is little artificial melodrama. There
are no loose ends and though the conclusions of the different tracks are logical,
they are not entirely predictable. The movie concludes well too with a nice
moral(though the fate of Shyam Ganesh in the background is silly and unintentionally
Murali makes full use of his meaty role and slips easily into the role of the
fisherman. His softspokenness helps in his essay of the man with the heart of
the gold and his goodheartedness is believable. In contrast, Manoj's character
has more shades of gray. Display of anger, either against his sister or the
bad guy, comes to him naturally but he is found wanting in the expression of
other feelings. Among the actresses, Uma lets her expressive eyes and faint smile
do the talking as she conveys her silent love. Pratyuksha is adequate but
Sindhu has ways to go before she can master the nuances of acting.
Deva aids Bharatiraja in bringing out the atmosphere of the fishermen community
with the group song Alai Alai Alaikadale... providing a rousing start.
Aadu Meyuthey... and Siluvaigale... are both nice-sounding duets
while Paithiyamaanene... is slow but surprisingly catchy because of its