times or more over the last two weeks I have seen
beggars on the roads of Chennai and thought about
their lives. Till now, the only thing that I have
done is to either turn away or occasionally give
them a coin, but never have I thought about how
they live, where they sleep or what they eat.
Now, one thinks about them with a lot more sympathy.
The first thought that comes to the mind on most
occasions is whether these people on the streets
are ‘owned’ or controlled by anyone,
does a begging mafia exist behind them? It is
the impact that Bala’s Naan Kadavul has
had on the mind. It is very very rare for a film
to make us relate to images that we see in real
life, even a fortnight after having seen the movie.
Now, I don’t know the truth or otherwise
about anything that was shown in Naan Kadavul.
Before watching the movie, I never used to spare
a second thought about the beggars. But now, it
is a natural thought process. Naan Kadavul has
made many people think deeply about what they
see around them everyday.
Whether Naan Kadavul is a great movie or otherwise
different question. But the fact that cannot be disputed
is that, at some level, the movie deeply affects the
mind. The movie has shown us the reality (maybe slightly
exaggerated, I hope) of the lives of the people who
beg for a living. Now, every time I see a beggar, I
want to know more than just what I see, it is as if
I am hoping that the truth behind them is not as brutal
as what was shown in Naan Kadavul. Bala has succeeded
in making images that are coming back to us the instant
we see a beggar. That is the hallmark of a director
who knows his trade. Movies have the ability to make
us feel all conceivable emotions that are there, but
not for long. We might feel romantic, sad or patriotic,
but the feeling lasts only as long as the movie does
or at best, for a while longer. But Naan Kadavul has
continued to gnaw at the mind over a long period of
What gave Naan Kadavul the ability to stay in our minds
for much longer than any other film that we can think
of? Maybe, it is the courage of the director who has
chosen to show us images that are haunting, not preferring
to give any room to make the visuals pleasing or aesthetic.
Bala’s intentions are very clear, he has certain
things to tell us and he is not going to mince any words.
He has relied on strong doses that will affect the mind
for a long time. In fact, I feel that the images of
Naan Kadavul are like a wound in the mind that is opened
up each time I see a beggar on the street. Watching
Naan Kadavul was not a pleasant experience, it hurt
somewhere and that pain is relived every time I see
something similar. I am not sure whether anyone else
has felt the same way that I have, but many have told
me that the movie made them cringe and look away from
the screen many times. But it is that stark and hard
hitting depiction in the movie that is now not allowing
me to look away from a beggar on the street. If this
is the effect that Bala desired to have on our minds,
then hats off to the director. Immediately after watching
the movie, the first assessment was that the director
had failed to strike a balance between the depiction
of cruelties and the main plot itself. Now, thinking
back, one feels that the director did exactly what he
wanted to. The focus on beggars, their lives and troubles
and the relatively lesser screen time of Arya are calculated
and intentional moves by Bala to have the desired effect.
It would be wrong to think that a director of Bala’s
abilities failed to notice that his script has lesser
space for Arya to perform, he intended it to be that
This also says a lot about the casting of the movie.
We know by now that Bala had cast real life beggars
in his movie, they have brought that authenticity on
frame which could not have been provided by any actor.
It is this attention to detail and uncompromising picturisation
of Bala that has made the movie hit and haunt us for
a long time. Whether Naan Kadavul is a great movie or
otherwise is a different question, but it definitely
has made many people look at beggars for a second longer
and wonder about the truth of what they saw on screen.
Whether this can translate into something bigger is
a question only time will answer.
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