Kaaviya Thalaivan review

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One of the toughest challenges that any period film faces is getting the flavour, tone and pitch of the period right, whichever century it takes place in. Known for his different style of filmmaking, director Vasantha Balan has churned out good scripts in the past and ensured his actors deliver realistic performances. Be it “Veyil”, “Angadi Theru” or “Aravaan,” the national award-winning director wooed us with his intense and hard-hitting films. Vasanthabalan has decided to take a bold initiative again by trying out something different to provide a whole new experience for today’s movie mongers. Well, coming to Kaaviya Thalaivan, the film is a period drama set in Madurai backdrop of the late 1940s, loosely based on the same real life characters of stage artists who existed during the pre-independence era in India. The film, produced by Sashikanth and Varun Manian stars Siddarth, Prithviraj and Vedhika in lead roles along with Nassar, Thambi Ramiah, Anaika in pivotol roles with Nirav Shah handling the camera and music by oscar winner A.R.Rahman. With such a king-sized cast and crew, it is natural that the expectation meter shoots up to stratospheric levels.

Story : The story revolves around the setting of old Tamil drama theatres and the life of troupe artistes, their egos and struggles they went through their lives. Sivadas Swamigal (Nasser) runs a drama company with a limited strength of only men participating in it. Two of his pupils Kaliappa Baghavathar (Siddharth) and Gomathi Nayagam Pillai (Prithviraj) ruled the Tamil stage in the 1940s and were considered the kingpins. Thambi Ramaiah is the troupe’s teacher and effectively the company’s manager too. Vadivambal (Vedhika) happens to join the troupe one day and goes on to become the Sripaatu. And then the human drama that unwinds is about love, friendship that soon turns into jealousy, betrayal and vengeance.

Direction : Adapting the written script to the screen is no easy task, Vasanthabalan has delivered a screenplay to showcase the 20th century Madurai theatre artists look is perfect and the dialects intact. The secret of a good movie lies in apt casting. Vasanthabalan wins half of the battle well before it began, by casting artistes like Siddharth, Prithviraj, Nassar, Vedhika and the rest. They have lived their roles lending credibility to the script. Brilliant characterization for all the actors, neat narration, amazing performances and overall a superb team work mark Kaaviya Thalaivan as the most prestigious film for the director. The dialogues written by Jayamohan though don’t have a strong impact, some of them make a deep impression in the second half of the film and more focussed.

Kaaviya Thalaivan also belongs to the spearheads Siddharth and PrithviRaj for their power packed staging. Siddharth as the Kaliappa Baghavathar gets a once in a lifetime role and he fits the role to a T. Be it an enthusiastic theatre youth or a romantic youngster running around Anaika the princess, he is right there giving his best.
On the other hand Prithviraj as Gomathi Nayagam pulls it off easily, his love for Vadivambal and his revenge on Siddharth, his emotional prowess is displayed in some of the scenes near perfection. Vedhika once again gives a a spellbinding performance after Paradesi, she dances and emotes well. Anaika as the princess who debuts in this film gets a limited scope and she did her part well. The lip sync goes weary at places for her. The rest of the supporting cast like Nassar, Thambi Ramiah, Ponvannan were downright good. The scene where Nassar curses his student Siddharth and back again Siddharth curses Nasser to death is truly remarkable. Vedhika’s introduction song is another highlight as she gives a bang on presentation when she wants to join Nasser’s company.

Technically the film is very sound and rich. Music genius A.R.Rahman’s songs and re-recording serve as the spine of this enterprise, emerging expectedly as one the film’s huge strengths. He is the biggest centre of attraction as he lifts the atmosphere to another altitude with his stimulating music. Praveen KL’s cuts were good but he could have made the slackening pace of the second half more tighter. Camera work by Nirav Shah is fabulous as he serves as the viewfinder for directors vision and gets the feel of 1940s absolutely right. His vivid lighting and dark shades of light towards the intense climax are clap worthy. The beaming red tone lends itself well to the theme and matches the time period in which the movie is set. The art direction done by Santhanam, costumes by Neeranjani, set properties and make-up departments are excellent in bringing to life a slice of time period in history.

Kaaviya Thalaivan’s pace is leisurely all the way and the director might have deliberately asked to slow down for the audience to feel the intensity of the emotions longer in second half. The writing could have been a little better here where it matters most. Along with the speed, the establishment of hatred between the theatre artists and the Britishers does not have the imperial feel which is supposed to have. The climax, much expected to be a heart – wrenching one, is a bit of a let down as it is wonted in every period drama film.

Nonetheless, coming to the conclusion, Kaaviya Thalaivan is a treat for fans who would like to relive the glorious days of theatrical works. Lavishly mounted and recreating the era with precision, Kaaviya Thalaivan gets you transported to the forgotten days of theatre artists. The film is a brave attempt on the part of its makers. For those who have not seen live drama and who have no idea about the pride a stage play can carry, this movie will be a whole new experience. Don’t miss it and go grab the tickets.

My Rating – 3.5/5

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