Cast: Vishal, Catherine Tresa, Karunas
A Vishal starrer has to have a larger-than-life character and a script that rolls beyond the frames of logic and reason, and much of what unfolds in Pandiraj-helmed Kathakali is well outside the realm of plausibility. The only redeeming feature of the work lies in its ability to hold on to the suspense element till the last frame, the thrill of the mysterious murderer keeping us riveted to scene after scene. Otherwise, much of Kathakali is pure mush, with the boy wooing the girl, and vowing to get her to the altar.
Vishal’s Anbu gets home in Cuddalore after a five-year sojourn in America only to find his mother dead and his father crippled from an attack by a local goon called Thamba -- whose phenomenal rise in the fishing business has made him so arrogant that he thinks a cobbler must remain a cobbler and an employee only an employee. When Anbu’s brother decides to set up his own establishment after parting with Thamba, there is death and destruction that the California returnee never forgets. And with his marriage to Meenukutty (Catherine Tress as a mere mantle piece) just some days away, the drama drums into a delirious beat.
Watch Kathakali trailer here:
If only Pandiraj -- who also wrote the movie --had not pandered to popular pulls by transforming Vishal into a superman, Kathakali might just have crossed over the line between scrap and sense, but very few Indian directors have the nerve to experiment with a kind of cinema which runs closer to lives outside.
But, yes, Pandiraj stays true to the title. Like in the Kerala theatre form where the face of the Kathakali artist is masked, the film superbly manages to keep us guessing about the killer. Happily, Pandiraj does not litter his narrative with clues.