KADAL (2013)

Director: Mani Ratnam
Casts: Arjun, Arvind Samy, Gautham Karthik, Thulasi
Music: A.R. Rahman
Language: Tamil
Genre: Romantic Drama

In a time where loads of debut directors are experimenting with different styles and themes, there is always a great demand for one man who planted freshness in Kollywood, years ago. Yes, the legend of contemporary cinema Mani Ratnam is back again with a straight Tamil film, Kadal. Touted to be a romantic drama, Kadal not only boasts the comeback of 90s heartthrob Arvind Samy but also marks the entry of two veteran actors’ (Karthik & Radha) children, Gautham Karthik and Thulasi Nair.  Releasing with humungous expectations, will Kadal prove to be another addition in Mani’s list of classics?


Sam Fernandez (Arvind Samy) enrols in a Christian Seminary where he meets a brilliant but an unruly student, Bergman (Arjun), who forms a deep hatred towards Sam when his atrocities gets exposed by Sam.  This results in Bergman getting expelled from the Seminary.

Meanwhile in the village, Thomas (Gautham Karthik) gets abandoned by his own father; post his mother’s death.  When Sam moves to the village, he develops a soft on Thomas and starts to lead him the right way in life.

However, Bergman enters the life of Sam again but this time he plans to get his revenge. How Thomas gets entangled in this tussle between good and evil forms the crux of the story.     

Story Screenplay

Mani Ratnam who is famous for creating successful mainstream classics, which cater all groups of audience, have fumbled a little this time as a storyteller. His films are best known for the immense emotional connection he makes through his focused story telling.

However Kadal misses its mark in connecting well with the audience with the lack of consistency in the narration. The film’s main plot focuses on the theme of good vs evil and it often gets associated with the legacy of Satan Vs Jesus. The intention of the director to cleverly put this theme on the backdrop of Christianity is noteworthy but the failure to keep that momentum makes Kadal fall flat by the time it reaches the second half. The struggle of choosing between the good and evil is a nice idea but Gautham joining Arjun at the interval mark, seriously looks forced. The character depths are also left half sketched.    

On the bright side, Kadal does have the typical feel good factor found in Mani Ratnam’s films, especially in the second half. The romantic sequences are very well bought out with the climax displaying the brilliance of the director a little.  Realistic, sharp dialogues by Jayamohan are also a big plus to the film as it bring out the coastal nativity convincingly.

In overall, even though Mani sets up an interesting fulcrum through the clash between Arvind Samy and Arjun, languorous pace and wandering screenplay averts Kadal from becoming a classic.

Casting & Performance

Casting is probably the best aspect of Kadal in where each and every one of them competes with one another to come up with power pack performances. Certainly the seniors Arjun and Arvind Samy top the list. Even from the trailer, one could sense that Arjun going to rock in this film and to no one’s disappoint he excels with such a menacing persona. Even at the flash backs he shows a certain degree of versatility.

Arvind Samy on the other hand, makes a sensational comeback! He almost carries the film on his shoulder with his downplayed, soft body language. It won’t be a surprise if we see him again in many films after Kadal. His maturity and experience have not been diluted whatsoever.

Karthik Muthuraman must be a proud father as Gautham gives such a seasoned performance in Kadal. His screen presence and the way he have carried him self is remarkable. Especially in the climax his rendition will create a lump in the throat.

Thulasi , with a limited role, sparkles with confidence. We would love to see more of her in her next film.

Other bunches of casts such as Lakshmi Manchu and Ponvanan are also make a decent portrayal.


Like any other Mani’s film, Kadal also comes with good technical finesse. Cinematographer, Rajiv Menon’s earthy tones give the village a cosy look. Especially in the climax, it would have taken immense hard work to crank the scene. For a backdrop like this, he could have easily chosen to overshadow the film but he plays subtle which results in wonders.

Art director, Shashidar Adappa’s accuracy to bring the coastal life on screen is praiseworthy.

Mani Ratnam’s usual associate editor Sreekar Prasad sets the slow pace from the start and travels along that speed throughout. However the slow speed intended to draw the emotions deeper, fails unfortunately. 

A.R.Rahman always saves his special best for Mani’s film as all his songs sounds internationally viable. All the visualization of the songs are also well placed and shot. The good thing about Mani is that he knows where to place his songs without any hindrance in the narration.

In overall, Kadal’s technical elements support the intention of the director to give a cosy film, to a great extent.


Even though, Mani Ratnam’s Kadal boasts with remarkable performance and excellent technical finesse, it shockingly suffers from a meandering screenplay.

Verdict: Half-Baked attempt in providing a classic   
Rating:  3/5


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