In the initial phases of the new Prithviraj starrer Kaduva, which marks the comeback of ace director Shaji Kailas, you might get a feeling that this is that “what if Shaji Kailas directed Ayyappanum Koshiyum” kind of film. That’s because the fragile male ego is a crucial factor in defining the film’s central conflict. But as the movie progresses, Kaduva becomes a hero-oriented drama, and the end result is a routine action flick that neither bores nor excites.
The movie is set in the 90s and focuses on Kuriachan (it was Kuruvachan initially). He is a planter from Pala who has many other businesses as well. He is known for his outspoken character and has a history of violence. The story here deals with an incident where he hurts the ego of an IPS officer named Joseph Chandi. What Joseph did in return and how this rivalry escalates is what we witness in Kaduva.
The good thing about Kaduva that makes it a watchable action flick is that it is a script built around a catchy conflict. Every subplot in the film contributes to the main narrative. But what is missing is the reinvented feel in the scripting. Be it Lucifer or Bheeshma Parvam, these mass masala projects worked because they reinvented scripts that looked simplistic at first glance. Even though you get that vintage Shaji Kailas vibe in the shot division and camera angles, the wow factor is missing.
The Kalyan Silks ad-like voice modulation of Prithviraj Sukumaran feels perfect for a character like Kuriachan. He carries the character’s swagger neatly, which was definitely better than Vadakkanveettil Kochukunju. As Joseph Chandy, Vivek Oberoi is a bit stiff, but Vineeth’s voice adds that much-needed intensity to that character. Samyuktha Menon as Elsa Kurian is largely sitting in the gallery. The same was the case with Arjun Ashokan. Alencier and Baiju, as the sidekicks of Kuriachan, were fine. Kalabhavan Shajon, Rahul Madhav, Seema, Innocent, Janardhanan, etc., are the other major names in the film’s star cast.
There are signature elements that make a Shaji Kailas movie different from other action films, which is definitely there in Kaduva. The camera, at times, focuses on minute objects, and there are some tight closeups of actors too. And that’s the style Shaji Kailas created back in the ’90s and early 2000s. Every time Kuriachan dominates in a scene, Abhinandan Ramanujam cues the audience through his cinematography by adding this bluish lens flare effect. Frankly, it felt a bit irritating as one can see the light source very clearly in some frames. Shameer Muhammed’s cuts are flashy, and the rhythm is pretty impressive in fight sequences. The music and the score from Jakes Bejoy definitely help the movie in setting the mood, even though some of the songs stretched the movie way too much.
The central conflict of the movie deserved a script that’s a lot more intricate and thrilling. The eye for an eye ideology of Kurian and Joseph in this ego-driven battle has fewer moments where you will clap for the strategy of either of them. The way it depends overly on style over substance makes it a nonboring template action flick.
The way it depends overly on style over substance makes it a nonboring template action flick.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended