In Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu, Gautham Vasudev Menon is clearly trying his luck at the gangster film genre by creating his version of Velu Naicker. In creating a world that looks original, Menon succeeds to an extent. But the narrative duration is such that you kind of sense a lack of clarity in depicting the eventfulness of the character’s journey. Based on the existing template of gangster dramas that illustrates the rise of a nobody, Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu tries to be unique. But, the weariness of the writing makes it that half-baked character exploration saga.
Muthuveeran is a young boy who lives in a rural village in Tamilnadu, and at one point, his mother realizes that he should no longer continue in that village. Her anxiety takes Muthu to his uncle, who used to work in a Porotta shop in Mumbai. The events that happen in Muthu’s life after he arrives in Mumbai to earn a living are what we see in Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu.
Just like any gangster story, the format here is very simple. The miseries have taken Muthu to Mumbai. He had to tolerate a lot of discrimination before he could go up the ladder in the system. As he got promoted, life became even more complex. Gautham Menon knows that being unpredictable is not what the audience wants in a movie like Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu. It is how much one can empathize with Muthu. In the movie, a character tells Muthu that if you have blood on your hands after entering this world, then you can’t leave this world. As a concept, that line has the potential for a well-developed gangster thriller with emotional shades. But the packaging is uneven, so we aren’t really rooting for Muthu even when bad things are happening around him.
Silambarasan is at his best in being Muthu. From physical transformation to body language, one can see the gradual progression of his character on various levels. The screenplay is written in a way that, other than Silambarasan, nobody else really gets proper screen time to be memorable. The most memorable one for me was Neeraj Madhav’s Sreedharan, largely due to the clumsy scenario of that character, along with the possibility of him having a significant role in the tentative sequel. And Neeraj performed that part really well. Siddhi Idnani as Paavai is that typical GVM heroine with a voice, and there are no inhibitions for that character in expressing her stand. Radhika Sarathkumar, Siddique, and a few more faces are there in the star cast.
To make the film look unique, you have Gautham divulging into subplots almost every 15 minutes of this movie. While I can understand why it is necessary, the crafting of those portions feels very isolated from the other tracks. In the first half, one can see those subplots converging into something. But the jumps in the second half are not that gentle. Cinematographer Siddhartha Nuni opts for a very rustic tone for the movie, and most of the time, he prefers this hand-held style, maybe to depict the lack of stability in Muthu’s life. The music by AR Rahman, especially the placing of the tune from the song Marakkuma Nenjam is just outstanding. If this tune had been created before the movie’s writing, I think Gautham and Jeyamohan would have worked harder to make the journey of Muthu more memorable.
Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu Part 1: The Kindling is a wannabe Nayakan that feels uneven and tiring despite setting up a believable world. It lingers onto sequences for far too long, and thus the character’s progression gets minimal emphasis. Silambarasan’s efforts to portray the character most authentically and Rahman’s scores are easily the takeaways of this Gautham Menon gangster flick that looks a bit hazy in its second half.
Silambarasan's efforts to portray the character most authentically and Rahman's scores are easily the takeaways of this Gautham Menon gangster flick that looks a bit hazy in its second half.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended