After fighting an enduring battle outside the theatre to get myself a ticket, I entered the cinema hall, battered and bruised, all set for Aadukalam nevertheless. The ambience was just right; I was watching a movie in a village after a long time as I hadn’t booked tickets in advance. The mood of the people around seemed to be in blissful confluence with the onscreen characters.
The movie starts off with a breezy voiceover by Vetrimaaran, a slide show encapsulating the history of rooster-fighting making up the background. As the title suggests, the movie is about battlefields and the fights that are orchestrated on and off the same. It’s also a tale of pride, ego, confidence, revenge and infidelity.
Rooster fighting forms the backbone of the movie; the movie see-saws through the lives of characters in the heart of Madurai who are solely dependent on the same for livelihood. The resulting possessiveness about the “art”, the honour and pride that comes with it proves to be Aadukalam’s Aadukalam. The characters, their emotions and their actions are chiseled in accordance with the happenings on the battle-field!
Everything that happens as a result of the battlefield endeavors and results make perfect sense; they take the movie towards the rightful destination modeled on realism. But it’s the side-tracks and the romantic interludes that fail to strike a chord. The romance in this movie can be compared to that in “7g”: in both cases, the heroine accepting the hero’s proposal seems impossible just because the female leads in both the movies find their respective pairs repulsive initially; also for the simple reason that their characters are diametrically opposite and so are their family backgrounds. The scenes outlining the lead actress’s disgust for the hero are so strong in both the movies that, though the directors of the respective movies try very hard to make us comprehend to the ensuing battle of love between the two at an emotional level, they fail. But I have to add that Vetri’s effort to fool us with his romantic fantasy has surely met with more success than Selva’s.
Acting is reason enough to give this movie a shot. I loved the old man who plays “Pettaikaran” more than Dhanush in this flick. Dhanush’s acting prowess, especially in the movies where he plays the “locallu” guy is well known. To emulate Dhanush and make a mark when Dhanush is playing his favourite character takes a lot of effort and surprisingly, the old man seems to have done it with graceful ease. Having said that, Dhanush himself has come up with a cracker of a performance. He reverberates with oodles of energy scene after scene and after Selva, Dhanush seems to be very comfortable working with Vetri! The partnership is a success again. Kishore is another asset to the team.
GV has come up with beautiful songs for the movie and they have beautifully blended with the mood; the placement of the songs warrant mention. The BGM though, didn’t appeal to me. It seemed very repetitive and monotonous. Editing is one big letdown in this movie: I wonder why our filmmakers are so intent on stretching a movie to 150 minutes and beyond. To make things worse, a lot of scenes have been scissored abruptly. Aadukalam is what it is solely because of its screenplay. The emotions have worked wonderfully well and the innovative engineering of a plethora of reactions around the red-hot core of rooster fighting made for intriguing viewing. The computer generated rooster fights have come out very well and the level of interest here is sure to keep the audience on seat edges. Lighting seems to be another neglected element in the movie, with the director making it difficult for us to differentiate between characters in a few scenes. Apparently, the director has employed this technique to reflect the emotions; but he needn’t have done it to this extent! It also takes the sheen of the otherwise flawless cinematography. One big surprise in Aadukalam was the disappearance of a seemingly important character after the end of the first half, who was apparently used only for the build up.
To sum it up, Aadukalam is refreshingly innovative and deserves applause for Vetrimaran’s eye for excruciating detail and desire for perfection. The movie is not without its set of flaws though. Go enjoy this flick and raise the bar on your expectation meter for Vetrimaran’s next venture! Hope he comes up with such innovative themes devoid of clichés in the future.