Director Raghavan who gave the heart touching ‘Manja Pai’ has chosen a completely different genre in ‘Kadamban’ in which he attempts to reveal how money hungry corporates spin a web of deceit to rob tribals of their habitat and identitiy.
Kadamban (Arya) is a daredevil tribal who belongs to a small clan living high up in a mountain in a dense forest. He loves his forests and is a sort of protector for it. Radhi (Catherine Tresa) is madly in love with the hero while her brother looks at him as an enemy. The head of a corporate conglomerate Mahendra (Deepraj Rana) and his brothers plan to illegally mine the mountain range for alkaline metals and to do that they need the tribals to move out their village. When Arya and the others refuse they first use deceit and later brute force against them and whether the hero and his little clan survive the onslaught or not forms the rest of the story.
Kudos to Arya for first beefing up his body and then for the daredevil stunts that he has performed which keep us in awe throughout the film. The climax fight in which he shows great agility in moving along with the elephants is a treat to watch. His cricketing prowess is put to good use in a fight with hungry hyenas too. On the whole its Arya and he alone who owns the film. Catherine Tresa who is obviously miscast with the sole intention of capitalizing on her Telugu market makes up for it with a sincere effort especially in the physically taxing action sequences in which she is also a part of. Aadukalam Murugadoss as the serial impregnator provides genuine laughs. Deepraj Rana as the main antagonist is given buildups from the very beginning but because his character is poorly written ends up as a cardboard villain. The actors cast as the tribals perform well and the one playing the evil ranger also does a satisfactory job. Y. Gee Mahendran and his daughter Madhuvanthini are cast in surprising roles and they carry it very convincingly.
In the first half director Raghavan has incorporated scenes of how the forest and the animals are affected by greedy humans be it wounding them fatally by carelessly thrown beer bottles or the killing of elephants for tusks and the endangered tigers for their teeth and nails. The fact that the tribals are forced out of their environment by the government and other vested interest parties by luring them with modern amenities and false promises are also exposed. One cannot help being reminded of the genocide that Tamils faced in the neighboring country through the fate suffered by the Kadambanur people. The pre-interval sequence is picturized well when brutality is meted out on the villagers by the ranger and his henchmen which is gut wrenching.
On the downside a film like ‘Kadamban’ needs intense writing and realistic filmmaking to get the message across strongly but this is where the director has let his film down by concentrating more on commercial elements and losing sight of the purpose of his story in the process. The riveting brutality scene we mentioned earlier that comes near the interval creates a great impact but the same is repeated again after the interval when bombs are thrown at the tribals and all the reactions are similar to the previous one and so the effort is wasted. If uneven pacing mars the narration, the amateurish graphics like in the hyena fight further alienates.
Yuvan Shankar Raja’s songs are good to listen to as an album but most of them are picturized unimaginatively to impress onscreen. He is his usual self in providing a complementing background score. S. R Sathiskumar’s cinematography is a major plus for ‘Kadamban’ as he has captured the panoramic western ghats beautifully in all its magnificence. The aerial shots are without blemishes and in the complicated action sequences we get a feeling that Sathish has also rolled in the air with Arya and the stuntmen to grab the frames. Deva’s editing as far as the image flow is concerned is up to the mark but could he have done something to add finesse to the story telling remains a question. It is commendable that Arya and Supergood Films have put in their money on a different film like this one. Director Raghavan’s hardwork is evident in the frames as he has not chosen an easy subject that you get every Friday. But at the same time it is also evident that he could have put in even greater effort in the screenplay to make it more engrossing if not entertaining.
Verdict : Go for it to watch Arya’s one man show in some amazing action sequences set in deep forests.