Kaalidas Movie Review: A good whodunit that misses being great by a whisker
A strong storyline makes up for the flaws in the execution
In the middle of a crucial chase headed by Inspector Kaalidas (Bharath), a head constable named Singadurai (certainly not a caricature of Durai Singam) gets a call from his wife, who he hasn't seen for days. In an attempt to balance his work and life, he goes ahead and picks the call amid the chase. Hearing him panting nonstop, the lady imagines him having an affair and he immediately snaps at her: "Oditte pesinaa moochu vaanga dhaan ma seiyum, nee vera paduthadha!" It's a line that leaves the entire theatre in splits. This moment of comic relief neither hinders the audience nor the cops on screen from shifting focus back to the series of murders, and Singadurai's team does manage to nab the culprit at the end of the chase. I see this character as a metaphor to Kaalidas' script. While the former's challenge is balancing his attention on his wife and the case, it is entertainment and novelty for the film. And for a major part, the film succeeds in this balancing act.
Cast: Bharath, Ann Sheetal, Aadhav Kannadasan, Suresh Chandra Menon
Director: Sri Senthil
I would have loved Kaalidas more if it had had a shorter run time, because a whodunit thriller works when every single twist surprises the audience and the final reveal is hard-hitting. But here, the twists in the latter half of the film, which I would rather call distractions, leave us baffled. The high-potential story gets diluted because of this convoluted part of screenplay, and when the ultimate reveal is shown screen, you have either already guessed it or you are not invested enough to relish it.
The other unsettling factor is the chain of coincidences in the script. A broken phone found at a murder spot is refurbished and hacked by the police only to find that the person they are seeking for is already behind the bars in their station. Another suspect, who happens to be in close vicinity to the cops, eavesdrops into their conversation and runs for his life, only to end up getting caught by them at the end. The list goes on and on.
I see the film's title as a bigger deception than the ones in the plot. When a film is titled after a character's name, you would ideally expect it to revolve around them, but, here, it is the story of every other character except him. Bharath's Kaalidas is reduced to a helpless pawn, who hardly influences the story. Though it is understandable that the character's depressed state of mind adds a huge bag of limitations, I believe adding, say, a couple of effective closeup shots for the actor may have helped the audience empathise with him better.
The supporting actors, with meatier roles, steal the show. Suresh Chandra Menon's DCP George would likely go straight into the list of our favourite on-screen cops as he is a gentleman and a daredevil, both at the same time. Be it the scene where he stops Kaalidas from being judgemental saying, "Police eppo moral police aaneenga?" or the portions where he says, "Vela kuduthaa enkittaye pambura... Vazhka kudutha ponnu kitta erangi po maatiya?", the actor shines.
I would even love to see a spin-off featuring him as the central character in the future. Aadhav Kannadasan as the creepy Pappu shows promise and I liked how the layers kept on adding to his character as the story progressed. Even standup comedian Thangadurai, who usually appears in blink and miss roles, gets to play an effective character and pulls it off well.
I quite liked how Kaalidas realistically touches upon pressing issues of the current generation like mental illness, extramarital affairs, messed up work-life balance, without ever turning preachy. I also loved how Sri Senthil manages to conclude a blue-whale murder mystery with a Bharthiyaar kavidhai that sums up the purpose of the murderer. If only a script doctor had been hired, this good whodunit could have been a great one.