Kathakali (Review): Engaging and entertaining. A pretty good action thriller.

Amuthan comes to hometown for his marriage with. When the local gangster Thamba gets mysteriously murdered, his gang members and police suspect Amuthan and his brother. Now it is his turn to escape and prove his innocence. While the hero character runs in panic to prove his innocence, the thirst for knowing the killer is poured on the audience’ head.

Special applause to Pandiraj for bringing the thrill and tension on screen even with a top masala action hero playing the lead. Usually, the issue with Indian thrillers especially Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, is when a top hero is performing the main lead, then the audience does not really feel the tension as the audience all know that the ‘hero’ will not get ‘hurt’. There are some exceptional films like Pa. Ranjith’s Madras. The structure of Kathakali keeps you busy. Pandiraj creates that atmosphere filled with tension and maintains it for around one hour in a two hour movie. That was impressive, very impressive. He avoided heroism for 80% of the film and that is exactly where the movie works, more than the twists, that is exactly why the audience feel relaxed when the ‘hero’ character starts hitting the ‘villains’ towards the end.

On the downside – It jumps to the story without many buildups but then it goes back to the heroine now and then before coming to the actual story again. Even though the heroine and comedy portions are not bad, we feel less interest in knowing about her. It was more like ‘inserts’ for the sake of heroine and a romantic song. The story could have continued from where it started. When the actual story begins and pace shifts post first forty minutes, we simply forget the ‘heroine’.  Another point on the downside, but not surprising, is the sudden turn of Amuthan to an ‘action hero’. The moment Amuthan starts hitting the villains with ease, the movie’s tempo vanishes and jumps to the usual ‘action hero’ genre from a brilliantly made ‘suspense thriller’ genre.

Kathakali Vishal Catherine

This is without doubt, the best performance of Vishal. I rate it above his performance in Bala’s Avan Ivan because as the boy next door Amuthan, Vishal is very natural, and simple. He fits to the character as perfect as anybody can. Catherine Tres is beautiful and convincing. Karunas is good in his laud but decent comedy scenes. Sreejith Ravi and Madhusudhanan does their job well. Hiphop Thamizha Aathi’s background score is one of the best. He continues his form from Thani Oruvan. Editing by Pradeep Raghav is top notch, and so are the visuals by Balasubramaniem.

Kathakali gives, anyway, a thrilling film noir experience for around one hour. The ending doesn’t really click together. We can see that coming. Overall it’s a good thriller, a cut above other masala movies. The writing is sharp and straight. This is a movie that is too smart for its own good. It is a fairly entertaining one twenty minutes, especially if crime-thrillers-with-some-heroism are among your genre preferences.

Engaging and entertaining. A pretty good action thriller.

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About the Author

PS Arjun
Cinephile. Learning the art of filmmaking. Script Writer. Director.

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