Kadugu benefits from an interesting setting and empathetic characters but it’s plodding screenplay and copious amount ham-fisted melodrama make it a tedious, and ultimately, unsatisfying watch.
Puli Pandi (Rajkumaran) is a simpleton with a heart of gold; he’s also a practitioner of the dying art of the traditional ‘Puli dance’. Puli gets a new job as a help to the local Police Inspector, who has gotten a transfer to a small sea town. This town is run by Nambi (Bharath), a young upcoming politician who has the heart of the locals. The eccentric Puli settles into his new home quickly with his noble intentions. He becomes good friends with Anirudh (Bharath Seeni), who works at the police station and engages in an online romance with a local teacher, Emy (Radhika Prasidhha). These people’s lives change for the worse right before intermission and what follows thereafter makes up Kadugu’s story.
The strongest thing director Vijay Milton has got going for him in his film are the comparatively well-fleshed out characters he’s written. Rajkumaran gives an earnest performance as Pandi, although at times he notches up the melodrama more than necessary. Bharath registers well with an understated performance as Nambi. There is a lot more to chew on with Nambi’s character than the rest. He is a man who has the right intentions but who’s judgment becomes more than a little clouded. Bharath Seeni as Anirudh is an entertaining foil, although his part in the film serves very little purpose to the main plot.
The screenplay is the main culprit of Kadugu’s shortcomings. The narrative wanders around aimlessly in the first half and the film wastes a lot of time in settling in. The beats of the story become a little predictable in the second half, as the picture drags its feet to the ending. The last fight scene dabbles in typical Tamil heroism, which doesn’t gel with the tone set by rest of the film. And while the opening scene features some technical flourish as it starts up with a long tracking shot of a film set, if only, there was more of that attitude to go around the rest of the film. The voice dubbing, which as is the norm unfortunately in the Tamil industry, was in-adept. This especially hampered Radhika Prasidhha’s performance.
Kadugu is ultimately a tale about morality; the decisions the characters choose to make and how it affects them and others around them. It mines pretty hard at the subject and ends up being a little too preachy in the process. A retooled, screenplay with more purpose would have served Milton’s interesting characters far better.
Tamil, Drama, Action, Color