Kanthaswamy comes with little pretensions and a single aim – to be the big crowd-pleaser and blockbuster Tamil film of the year. Promoted and hyped as the second most costliest Tamil film after Sivaji, The Boss (2007), there is no doubt that money has been spent like water in the film. You see this on screen in the grand production design, interesting choice of locations such as Mexico and the sheer scale of some of the action sequences.
Kanthaswamy tries to satisfy the regular Tamil cinegoer right from the hero’s whistle-inducing entry in his rooster avatar as he knocks a corrupt cop about, all through to its entire 3 hour plus running time – a ‘Paisa Vasool’ film in other words. The film, directed by Susi Ganesan, succeeds in some aspects reasonably well. The mounting of this Shankaresque type film is extravagant, the pace is heady, the narrative flow energetic and the obvious commercial ingredients (read Masalas) mixed well for its target audience – all this done with a certain amount of technical flair, which only shows how far behind Hindi cinema lags in moving alongside new technology developments.
That said, the premise of Kanthaswamy, unfortunately, is as old as the hills. VP Kanthaswamy of the IPS lives a double life as a responsible CBI officer and the Robin Hood ‘Kanthaswamy’ who dresses up as a super (hero) rooster and basically distributes the ill-gotten gains of the rich to the poor – Yes, it’s that creaky. So all the film really has going for it is its treatment and style to make up for this deficiency and you do wish the makers had selected a better and meatier story. Further, the story and style is just too, too reminiscent of past blockbusters likeAnniyan (2005) and Sivaji, The Boss.
The film has its share of problems even beyond the flimsy story. It wants to be a Shankar film without getting there. And the biggest disappointment in the film is the characterizations of the villains. To make your hero stronger, his adversaries have to be strong as well and Kanthaswamy fails big time here. Mukesh Tiwari and Ashish Vidyarthy are just not strong enough baddies for our hero to overcome. Then, after some extremely well conceived and executed action sequences, particularly in the Mexico segment, the final one-to-one fight with the villain is dheela to say the least. The film also tries to pack in too much style and technique without any subtlety. The yellow colour tones used begin to pall after a while. The length too begins to tell heavily in the second half as at 3 hours plus, the film is at least 45-50 minutes too long for such a wafer-thin plot and in spite of all the high energy and grandeur throughout its running time, it gets to you.
Coming to the performances, Vikram ably carries the entire film on his shoulders. Looking young, smart and belying his age (he is well over 40 now), he makes a most credible hero and what’s more responds with a fine performance giving strength and most importantly, conviction and belief to every scene he appears in, even the corny ones of him as a rooster crowing or the big moral ‘message’ he gives at the end! He has solid screen presence and his fans are likely to be more than satisfied as the story requires him to change into various get ups including one as Aishwarya Rai! An added bonus for them is that he has also sung all his songs in the film. Shriya is used as pure eye candy and does look like a million bucks in some sequences. Her curves are all in the right places and thankfully, she has not been made to act much as from what little one saw, yes, maybe it’s better for her to concentrate on her oomph factor. She’s embarrassing in the sequence where she tries to accuse Vikram of rape in his own office. Though said to be a professional dancer, it has to be said some of her dance movements lacked the natural grace of a dancer.
Of the supporting cast, Prabhu as the DIG trying to solve the mystery behind the local Kanthaswamy temple is reliably efficient as ever while yesteryear hero Krishna scores in his brief act as the head of CBI. Vadivelu is genuinely funny in a couple of the comedy sequences like his interrogation at the police station. The villains, Ashish Vidyarthy and Mukesh Tiwari are insipid. The former hams while the latter fails to make his presence felt. Mumaith Khan is raunchy enough in her item number to cater to the basic instinct of the front benchers.
The technicalities are in place and consistent throughout the film though very, very in-your-face be it the camerawork, editing, or sound design. The camerawork, while great in places, ultimately suffers from the film trying too much for its own good and then going haywire in the DI process. The sound design is heavy and overblown and yes, obvious but there is a thought process behind the design to create maximum impact for the typical Tamil cine buff. The art direction contributes to the grand look of the film while Devi Sri Prasad’s music sticks to the peppy chartbuster variety and little else. Still, Excuse me Mr Kanthaswamy has an undeniable catchiness and Meow Meow and Mambo Mamiya, the last picturised in Mexico, have their moments as well. The song picturisations have their scale but could have been more imaginatively picturised and choreographed. The action sequences particularly the one in Mexico with the helicopter deserves a special mention.
All in all, Kanthaswamy has its share of a few crowd pleasing and whistle-inducing moments but needed a far better and crisper storyline to carry it. As it is, it is just about time-pass in its best moments and little more.
Tamil, Action, Drama, Color