Tamil actor Karthi, who debuted in an extremely novel Paruthiveeran, a violent rural drama, returns to the countryside in his latest, Pandiraj's Kadaikutty Singam. Though he impresses as a virtually illiterate farmer from a rich household, headed by a patriarch (played by Sathyaraj), whose craving for a son pushes him into having two wives and several daughters before Karthi's Guna Singam is born, the film turns out to be preachy and moralistic.
Messages on the need for India's youth to take to farming is thrust on your face with such boring regularity that the movie may well have been made by a publicity department of the Government. If the underlying theme is education vis-a-vis agriculture, Kadaikutty Singam could not have gone so wide off the mark.
Beyond this, the film is a high-strung drama of a large and rich family living in a village, where time seems to have stopped. I cannot believe that one could have made a movie in today's time and age where women – much like Victorian England (where marriage was the be-all and end-all) and post-war Europe (with its depleted male population) – are so desperate for men's attention. And Singam's two nieces are dying to grab his eyeballs and affections in a community where it is perfectly legitimate for a man to marry his aunt's daughter.
But Singam has his heart set on an outsider, Kannukiniyal (Sayyeshaa), who despite pomp and luxury, prefers to travel to college by public transport – a practice which later becomes an excuse to meet her man. However, Singam's love for her is vehemently opposed by his two aunts, each dreaming of getting him for her daughter. Obviously, his huge inheritance appears to be at the bottom of the older women's desperation to hook their younger brother.
Heavy and pedantic, Kadaikutty Singam is an exaggerated, messy work, and completely out of touch with modern times. Sadly, Karthi is wasted at a juncture when he seemed to be bobbing out of cliched waters after an interesting performance in Theeran Adhigaram Ondru – where he essayed a cop determined to crush a gang of murderous dacoits. Soori, as Singam's cousin, has interesting lines, witty and at times refreshingly novel. Little else on offer.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic, who may be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)