Karuppu Durai (KD) Movie Review

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KD movie review: Following To Let and House Owner, 2019 has yet another memorable gem – KD.

KD movie cast: Mu Ramaswamy, Nagavishal, Yog Japee
KD movie director: Madhumita
KD movie rating: 4 stars

We are introduced to Karuppu Durai (Mu Ramaswamy), a 70-something protagonist from Kallupatti, a remote area in Virudhunagar, lying unconscious in bed for months. His family members, barring his daughter, get tired of seeing him suffer. They decide enough is enough, and consider to perform euthanasia—a custom called thalaikoothal locally —where someone is offered lots of tender coconuts, after an oil bath, so that the person dies, following multiple organ failure. Karuppu Durai overhears this conversation and elopes from home with an empty pocket. “Pogala, poitaaru!” like a woman character rightly points out. Karuppu Durai is incredibly hurt because his family washed their hands of him.

Fate brings two contrasting characters—this old man, the father of five children, and an eight-year-old orphan, Kutty (Nagavishal) together. KD mines both laughter and tears from the struggles of two individuals. While Kutty is street-smart and has a way with words, Karuppu Durai is a tad reticent. At first sight, Kutty gets annoyed by Karuppu Durai, but eventually, develops an inseparable bond with him. KD is entertaining as we see the world mostly through the eyes of Kutty.

Karuppu Durai is an ardent MGR fan and wants to act in films. He also likes biryani. One day, Karuppu Durai wells up thinking about his family abandoning him. Kutty consoles him saying, “Unnaiyaavadhu ippo vendaam nu sonnanga. Enna laam porandhappove” That’s some level of top-notch dialogue delivery. Maybe, Kutty feels the loss but doesn’t show it. Maybe, he is good at hiding emotions. He takes life quite easily, and I like how Madhumita handles the whole angle with conviction.

Kutty learns about Karuppu Durai and does little things that make him happy. He teaches Karuppu Durai many things, including how to read and write. Kutty is a kid. Karuppu Durai is also a kid in some way or the other. Rather, Kutty helps Karuppu Durai re-discover the child in him. Both abandoned by their families find solace in each other’s company. Their casual friendship, irrespective of the age difference, turns into a meaningful grandfather-grandson bond. They start visiting places together, including festivals and so on. They realise they are happier now and their camaraderie is effortlessly beautiful on screen. In one scene, Karuppu Durai mentions how he is thankful to Kutty for getting him a plate of mutton biryani and turns emotional. It might be a simple gesture but meant a lot to this old man.

The performance by the lead pair Mu Ramaswamy and Nagavishal is raw, and this is where the film scores. KD is simple, endearing and sweet without unnecessary twists and subplots. Director Madhumita chooses a sensitive topic, yet deals with it in a lighthearted way. Further, KD gnaws at your conscience without making quick judgments or statements. Though the turn of events gets predictable towards the end, it’s not ‘filmi’, and that’s one of the biggest strengths.

The same fate that brought Kutty and Karuppu Durai together once becomes the reason for the distance between them. The old man realises he can’t have Kutty with him for long and takes a decision that benefits Kutty’s future.

Karuppu Durai learns the meaning of life as he meets Kutty. Madhumita and co-writer Sabarivasan Shanmugam instill moments of magic that works for the plot. The attention to some real-life character traits that this duo translate into the script makes KD a fun outing. But the soul of the film is undoubtedly its characters—Kutty and Karuppu Durai. The boy has an infectious smile and a pair of eyes that light up with mischief. In particular, watch out for the place he says, “Badhrama KD-a paathukonga, adhukku onnum theriyaadhu”, before he boards the train.

Oh, not to miss this lovely parallel track involving Karuppu Durai and his former school crush Valli—which reminded me of Dhanush’s Pa Paandi. Karuppu Durai and Valli meet years later. She recognises him, after pondering for a while, and smiles. She doesn’t oversell the moment, and that smile speaks volumes. Most importantly, she puts sense into Karuppu Durai’s brain, saying “Pidichavanga nalla irukkanum naa, avungala vittu velagi poradhum, anbudhaan.” (Letting go of people for their well being is also love)

KD reflects much more on life than death. I don’t remember the last time I saw a film with lesser-known faces with memorable characters. I am glad there is some thought given to each of them. Let’s take Valli, for instance. She is a revelation. Mu Ramaswamy is equally cast well, and so is Nagavishal. The picturesque locales captured by cinematographer Meyyendiran Kempuraj don’t let you take your eyes off the frame.

Following To Let and House Owner, 2019 has yet another memorable gem—KD. What an appropriate title for the film! The run time is a huge advantage and if you are bored with regular commercial films with loud dialogues and songs, go for this. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

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