Kaappaan, their third film together, is by far the weakest collaboration of KV Anand and Suriya. Practically nothing works in this film that looks at a former Military Intelligent Officer and organic farmer, Kathir (Suriya), who is appointed as part of the Special Protection Group (SPG) of the Prime Minister (Mohanlal) after an assassination attempt on the latter.
*Note: Some spoilers ahead.*
Even though Suriya’s previous collaborations with KV Anand, Ayan (2009) and Maattrraan (2012), were no great shakes as films, at least to me, they had their moments. Kaappaan has almost none. To begin with, the very blueprint of the film, its writing, is terribly weak. None of the issues – be it farmers distress, National Security, taking over of agriculture land by evil corporates or bio warfare – come together in a coherent story. This is hampered further by its poor cinematic treatment.
For an action-thriller of this type, the script lacks credible twists and turns with perhaps the only clever twist and surprise element being when fellow SPG mate Joseph (Samuthirakani) is shot from the side and not from the back. But even here, the pang of his colleague’s death fails to have the emotional impact of a similar death of a fellow police officer in Suriya’s earlier film, Singam (2010). And to a certain degree, the interval block does work. Mostly though, the films falls prey to predictability. Showing Suriya blowing up a train as a prologue and then in more detail later doesn’t work as we already know the outcome and so the lengthy scene revealed in detail actually falls flat. And while one understands that our mainstream films take liberties with logic keeping the entertainment factor in mind, Kaappaan nevertheless stretches one’s suspension of disbelief skills to its breaking point. So among other gobsmacking scenes, a Prime Minister can go to a colleague’s birthday party disguised as a sardar, drink and drive and what’s more, be responsible for a SPG officer’s death in a public shootout. And then be pulled up by his collar by our SPG hero! In its own one Nation, one language theory (the film being ahead of its time?), Kaappaan ensures that Tamil is spoken and sung everywhere by everyone in the film no matter where they come from. And not just throughout the country (even in Delhi and Kashmir), but even outside our borders in London!
The characterizations are dull and unsatisfactorily fleshed out. In fact, there is a laziness right through the film with the performances too failing to lift the film as they vary from so-so to mediocre. Sure, Suriya has his moments as the master-of-all-trades one-man army who can farm, use chemicals to drive off cyclones, fight, do death defying stunts, preach and even give advice to the Prime Minister during a press conference. But one is tired now of hearing or reading that sadly for him, the script lets him down. Let’s be clear – Suriya is in a position to pick his choice of scripts and as the star whose positive nod led to this project being green-lit, he must take a fair share of the responsibility along with KV Anand for the final outcome. He has no one but himself to blame if distributors now look at him as clearly a rung below Vijay and Ajith based on the below average performance of his last few films. Mohanlal as the Indian Prime Minister is just about okay. The attempts to humanize him are childish and he is made to do little besides give boring long speeches and escape assassination attempts everywhere till finally the villains are successful. Sayyeshaa seems to be added on more as a necessary evil of the story needing a leading lady for a badly developed romantic track, a song or two and little else. And if this is how the Press Secretary of the PMO office works, heaven help us! Arya can’t do anything with his ridiculous role of the happy-go-lucky guy, who is made the PM after his father’s death, while Boman Irani as the land-grabbing industrialist makes for an insipid villain as does Chirag Jani playing the Intelligence officer gone rogue. Samuthirakani as Surya’s colleague is wasted and the way his character is treated, right from the beginning, you know he is going to be killed. And sure enough he is…
Technically, the film is surprisingly tacky. The production design and mounting is shockingly inept for a big budget star vehicle of this type. It is badly shot with the VFX elements being particularly woeful. Harris Jayaraj comes up with very average songs and a loud, obvious background score. It doesn’t help that the song picturizations too are unexceptional (spare us hero solo songs at the beginning of the film, please) and while Anthony does manage to keep the pace of the film going, one still feels the length of 160 odd minutes and beyond a point, we don’t care what happens to whom. Also, the ‘Anthony cuts’ of showing hidden parts of a scene later as some big revelation is starting to pall now. Another major irritant is the dubbing for Boman Irani as in many parts of the film, his lip movements just don’t match his dubbed dialogue.
Suriya’s star power has ensured the first three days collections to be decent and a star film doesn’t necessarily follow logic at the box office. And let’s be honest. Worse films have succeeded at the box office. But what is undeniable is that aesthetically and cinematically, Kaappaan comes across as a film of surprisingly low quality considering all the talent involved. And that, to me, is its biggest failure.
Tamil, Action, Drama, Colour