What’s the mark of a great movie? Show you what is beauty. And then, spoil it right in front of your eyes. Slowly but surely. And after all beauty is lost, what you have is a raw deal of emotions that cuts through the soul like a slivering blade. Aadukalam, in every sense, will be the cornerstone for movies that aspire to handle distortion of beauty. Kattradhu Thamizh (2007) is the immediate predecessor that comes to my mind.
The first half of the movie deals with the beauty that I am talking about. Vivid locale, authentic characters, rooster curves in extreme close-up, free-spirited playground emotions, and the paramount value of winning a challenge. You see a mentor ruled by pride. You see a team ruled by faith for the mentor. You see the intensity of a challenge and what unfinished business could mean to a loser. You see love. You see the ecstasy it carries along with it. And of course, you see the deliciously lazy beauty of an Anglo-Indian woman. You are right there in it. In the history of cinema, during intense game scenes, you’ve always been on the side of an athlete, a boxer, a cricket team, or even a hockey team. Do you remember ever being on the side of a rooster? Such is the impact of the stunt scene that leads up to the intermission. It’s a tiny piece of art, my friend.
What follows after the intermission deals with a serious distortion of that beauty, unraveling in an indelibly brilliant fashion. How normal mind responds to loss of pride and how it shapes up into a mastermind behind a seamless destruction of relationships in the blink of an eye. Scenes are not made here but simply evolve on their own. As natural as it gets. And viewers will have no idea of the continuous twists and turns that take place at the plot level because they are too involved with the state of mind of the characters to respond. After watching the latter half, you will find that Aadukalam is no different when it comes to showing the regular elements of cinema. But where it draws the line from the rest is the way the characters are created. They are not created with emotions from the first frame. They are drawn completely devoid of emotions at first, etched on a dice, and then rolled on to a playground. And that’s where they interact with each other and build themselves. Pettaikaruppan is one of the finest characters you’ll see in Tamil Cinema for a long time to come. Simply because he shows us how devastating a sudden loss of attention could be. Human mind works in mysterious ways.
This movie reaches the viewers at three different levels. At first level, it is an entertainer with freshly captured rooster stunts. At second level, it is the story of an unadulterated and sensitive character, who plays the game of life and death. At the third level, it is the story of faith. If rooster stunt is the unique selling point of the movie, faith is simply the selling point.
Sometimes, after watching movies such as Pudhupettai, Kadhal Konden and Aadukalam, Dhanush has to be quoted as “Wire-built but Tailor-made”. The subtlety in his acting has improved a lot, which could only get better from here on. And Vetrimaaran, who has taken a giant leap from Polladhavan in terms of content quality, has done nothing short of making a great movie out of a good script. If self indulgences, which talented directors will easily acquire with success, can be carefully brushed aside, Vettrimaaran will enter the hall of fame in Tamil Cinema.
Aadukalam – Towards Tiptop Filmmaking!