Aadukalam – the (un)fair playing field.

“Irene-u, I am lou you!” is one of those lines that will go down history books. And I mean it in a good way.

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

Rooster fights (from the suburbs of Madurai) haven’t been seen like this in Tamil cinema in a long time. A joyous first half establishing Karuppu (rather convincingly played by Dhanush) as a loyal happy-go-lucky ‘irresponsible’ youngster who is very tactful in training roosters for fights. Then, there is our lovely Irene (played by Taapsee Pannu? Is that her name? Like velai pannu, matter pannu, Taapsee pannu?) who is looking for ‘belonging’ (which she finds rather cinematically in Karuppu’s company). There is Durai (played by Kishore who I don’t seem to have watched much before) who seems to be so easily manipulated, that you wonder if the director hasn’t ever lived a ‘real life’. There is a Rathnasamy (played by Nareyn, says wikipedia) who is a uppukkuchappaani villain. There is Pettaikaaran who is finally the real villain. There are lots more Anglo-Indian people (who are Irene’s relatives), disoriented Policemen, drunk friends, submissive wives, disgruntled mothers etc. who make very little difference to the end product.

Image Courtesy: movies.sulekha.com

A poignant story of trust and betrayal placed in the rustic background of Madurai with characters that seem real, Aadukalam is indeed a film worth spending time and money on. Although I thought the love story of Karuppu and Irene is an accessory without purpose, it is very well executed and gives the viewer the few rare smiles in between. Each relationship in the film is very real, characters with whom you can make a connection! (that younger brother of Irene’s reminds me of my younger brother! Indeed a shame that we have come to speaking in English to each other!) The rooster fights are timed to perfection, long enough to keep you curious and not so long that you are bored. The crisp edits work wonders for those scenes.

GV Prakash seems to have got a sudden flash of music sense! ‘Yathe yathe’ and ‘otha sollala’ ring in my head even now! A surprise from GV, for sure!

As a delight to watch for 2 and a half hours, this film is surely not flawless. It is all about manipulation and betrayal in a way that sounds like nobody has even a tinge of intelligence. It needn’t have gone as far as it did (killing as many people on the way) if one person of all those people used basic intelligence! Blind trust could be the argument, but I don’t believe so many people fell for that one ploy.

The film is completely predictable. One can pretty much say what will happen next. But what works for the film is the fact that you hope your guess doesn’t come true. In all, a fresh film written with finesse and executed with interest, no doubt. But Betrimaaran hasn’t ventured too far. It is film very much within the boundaries of normal-regular-cliched Tamil cinema with songs, dance, fights, love story, righteous parents of the heroine, sacrificial girlfriend and a running away scene. Isn’t it high time we dropped the unnecessary adornment?

I’ve just got one question. Why do pretty, educated, English speaking, middle class women still run away with good-for-nothing ‘heroes’? Why ya why?