Kalavani (Movie review), Tamil – A Sargunam

To be fair, I started watching A Sargunam’s debut, Kalavani, loaded with expectations. This was one film that was touted as a sleeper hit and got massively positive reviews almost everywhere.

So, it may be the expectations or the nature of the film’s screenplay – it was boring, for large parts.

That however does not mean the film was not good. I was expecting a Pasanga (at least going by many reviews that claimed the film was a curious combination of Pasanga and Nadodigal), but it turned out to be completely different. Merely having Vimal in the lead in a similar role doesn’t make this film a Pasanga. Or, merely having a kidnap scene doesn’t make this film a Nadodigal.

If I were to connect this film, I’d blasphemously do it, with Pandirajan’s second film, Aan Paavam.

The film has 2 really good ideas…nah, make it one and a half. One is Arikki LC112. The second (half) is the way it ends.

Barring these, there are no genuinely interesting scenes to sustain interest for 2 1/2 hours. The only thing that works big time is how it is filmed with rustic nativity. The characters and locations are so natural and earthy that you almost smell the paddy fields.

There are minor, genuinely brilliant scenes, sprinkled across the film. The way the director skips specific scenes to reveal only a part of the story or show it later, is an interesting technique that works very well at places. For instance, Vimal blackmails his mother and sister by aiming a brick at the TV, for money. That scene is almost meaningless, then. But, Sargunam gradually reveals its impact in the subsequent scene when Saranya attends Vimal’s father’s phone call from Dubai. The meaning manifests fully when the Dubai-based dad’s friend visits them, in their dilapidated house! That confidence in not revealing the entire point is commendable.

Or, take the scene where Vimal takes special care of the few paddy plants that the heroine plants in their field. It extends obviously, but the way Vimal’s dad guesses the affair is a subtle, beautiful touch.

The film is thankfully devoid of any violence, bloodshed or pointless bravado. Even the most volatile scene – where Vimal sneaks in a village fest to be close to Oviya – is handled very naturally.

The way the film ends is another touch that is vastly similar to Aan Paavam, in tone and not in any specific scene. The way Vimal uses his smart-alecky intelligence to diffuse the prevailing tension is something that Pandiarajan (or his guru, K Bhagyaraj) mastered back then.

But, all this is wrapped in a screenplay that goes on endlessly about predictable and repetitive scenes about Vimal and Oviya meeting in a paddy field or some other location nearby. Even the running joke with Ganja Karuppu gets stale after the first gag, though, it seems like the gag is repeated solely for use in the climax, as a crucial plot point.

It is perhaps to Pandiraj’s (of Pasanga) or Sasikumar’s credit that an otherwise decent effort like Kalavani pales in comparison – mind you, only in comparison. On its own, Kalavani is a watchable film for a lot of nifty and creative scenes that are peppered all over the film. It is just that they don’t add up to an entirely riveting film.