KD (a) Karuppu Durai Movie Review: A loveable journey of the importance of living
A well-written emotional drama backed by solid performances
Madhumitha's Karuppu Durai, starts with a voice-over by its titular character (Mu Ramaswamy), and the camera roves across the world of the septuagenarian. We are introduced to his village T Kallupatti, his house, and the men awaiting his death. Just when the camera traverses the women of his house, we hear, "Indha pombala pullainga ellam ivlo velai pannitu irukudhunga, indha aambalainga summa irukainga parunga," subtly pointing at male chauvinism. While female characters spending the majority of their screentime in the kitchen gets normalised in most films, Karuppu Durai takes a pause and makes a statement. Within a few minutes into the film, we realise why we need films like this and why female filmmakers like Madhumitha are important.
Cast: Mu Ramaswamy, Nagavishal
Though the promos and posters of Karuppu Durai are cartoonish, the central crux of the film is a serious one: Death. As a person with rural roots, the very word thalaikoothal (a practice of mercy killing the elderly and bedridden) has always given me nightmares. But the mix of emotions and humour is so perfect here that it made me search for my tissue both to wipe tears of sadness, and in minutes, tears of laughter. When Karuppu Durai is down with coma and the people stretch out their fingers to check for his breath, his mind voice goes, "Adi paavi, iva suruttu pudippaa nu ippo dhaan theriyum!"
But the real fun starts when Karuppu Durai meets the adorable chatterbox, Kutty (Nagavishal) and gets re-christened KD. While the former is old, weary, and experienced, the latter is young, naive, and full of energy. The way their contrasts bring them closer and they become each other's yin and yang reminded me of the classic Poove Poochooda Vaa in more than one instance. While it was young Sundari running away from death in PPV, it is the aged Karuppu Durai here.
Madhumitha and Sabarivasan Shanmugam (who has contributed the dialogues and additional screenplay) deserve a huge shout-out for crafting Kutty, a 10-year-old, who has an exceptional sense of humour and understanding of life, and yet, acts his age. It would be a surprise if Nagavishal doesn't get nominated for the top honours of the country for best-child actor, after such a stunning performance. Be it the scene where he consoles the old man saying, "Unnaiyavadhu ippo venam nu solranga... enna laam porandhappove..." or the multiple instances where he delivers hilarious punch lines like, "Enaku naane TV, naane remote," Nagavishal shines.
I see realism as the biggest strength of Karuppu Durai. Even though the story has a bunch of people waiting for a man to breathe his last, they are not painted in black and antagonised. We get to see their side of the story too. The women in Karuppu Durai's house lose a significant portion of their life taking care of him in his vegetative state, while the men lose all their wealth to meet his medical expenses. When they say, "Maththavan vasa sol solradha ketu vaazhara vaazhkai sorgama naragama?" you understand they don't see thalaikoothal as murder and instead consider it as a celebration and way of life.
Karuppu Durai is never short of cute moments and the bucket list the leads make together is just icing on the cake. It is filled with simple yet adorable things any lower-middle-class person would dream of, like travelling in an AC train, wearing a suit, and riding a bike with their best friend in the pillion. I particularly liked how the dream wish of Karuppu Durai gets fulfilled so organically in the story.
A good story is remembered for its strong performances and here, even the actors in the shortest roles excel. It was surprisingly pleasant to watch the usually stereotyped Badava Gopi play a soft-spoken priest. Mu Ramaswamy is a powerhouse and nails even the toughest emotions.
I wouldn't call Karuppu Durai an unpredictable emotional drama. The story does turn predictable at points, but whenever it turns, the music of Karthikeya Murthy flows in to engage you.
Many times in the film, Karuppu Durai digs into a plate of biriyani forgetting the other burdens of his life. The way he relishes his food makes the mouths of the spectators water and entices them to grab a plate of their own. I see the film as a similar appetiser that encourages us to take a pause, forget all our worries, and relish every single moment of our lives.