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Review by : Behindwoods review board
Starring: Dhanush, Jayabalan, Kishore, Tapasee
Direction: Vetrimaaran
Music: GV Prakash Kumar
Production: Kathiresan

The Polladhavan combination of director Vetrimaaran, music director G V Prakash and cinematographer Velraj with Dhanush and Kishore is back once again in one of the first releases of 2011. In Aadukalam, Vetrimaaran takes to Madurai backdrop and rooster fights to tell his story in a distinct manner which makes his enterprise stand out tall and high from the rest of the crop.

Resorting to rural milieu is not something uncommon in Tamil cinema but the director has justified the usage of his premise ably. Having said that, he has employed myriad human emotions like unquestionable trust and the breach of it, loyalty, pain, anguish, manipulation and remorse to convey his tale.

Rearing roosters, maintaining them and using them for fights is a way of life and a matter of honor and lifeline to many people. In such a tenement, Pettaikaarar (Jayabalan) leads a very respectable life with his key aides Durai (Kishore) and Karuppu (Dhanush) along with others. His main adversary in rooster fights is Rathinam, the police inspector. Pettaikaarar is known to have an impeccable track record of successes when it comes to rooster fights especially with Rathinam’s.

In an unexpected situation, Pettaikaarar challenges Rathinam to a cockeral fight which witnesses Karuppu violating his mentor Pettaikaarar’s word but emerging successfully with enviable proceeds. This results in the swelling of his status among his folks which plants the seeds of animosity in the minds of Pettaikaarar. Rest of Aadukalam travels on an unexpected path with twists and turns highlighting on the way the multiple layers of human emotions with sense playing truant.

The major plus point of Aadukalam is its strength in characterization. Nowhere in the film will you find the characters oscillating. Vetrimaaran proves that he is after all an adept raconteur with an eye for details. Every scene substantiates his efforts. The amount of detailing especially pertaining to the roosters needs plaudits which incidentally justifies the long period in making.

It will be an understatement to say Dhanush steals the show as the actor has lived the role of Karuppu. What a multitude of expressions in a single twitch of muscle or in a raised eyebrow? It is a visual treat to watch the talented lad perform be it the love that he feels towards Tapasee or the rambunctious jive he breaks into when she declares her love for him or the pain he feels when Jayabalan treats him badly or his regret when he loses his mom or the anguish on discovering betrayal. Dhanush is a revelation and makes you wonder if anyone else could have done justice to this role.

Jayabalan, the Tamil poet as the Pettaikaarar delivers an effective portrayal. With the right kind of expressions and body language, he demonstrates a new type of villainy and Radha Ravi’s voice adds strength to his role. Tapasee Pannu as the Anglo Indian girl Irene is adequate and portrays her role in a respect-worthy fashion. Kishore as Durai with Samudirakkani’s voice is valuable. Besides these, there are many small characters that make their mark like the Pettaikaarar’s young wife, Karuppu’s friend and so on.

G V Prakash’s music elevates Aadukalam and intensifies the effect over the audience. Songs are rightly placed and none of them are contrived. While Otha sollaale makes the audience boogie, Ayyayo and Yathe Yathe’s melody enthrals them. His BGM during the pre-interval rooster fight slowly reaching the crescendo adds up to the suspense quotient and the spiralling frenzy. The action sequence in the climax is realistic and credible. Velraj’s camera travels to nook and corner of Madurai areas and sucks in the audience to the film.

On the flipside, the film is a tad lengthy in the first half and there are patches of slowness but they are few and far between. It is evident that the director has resorted to graphics for rooster fights to abide by the rules of animal welfare board.

In all, Aadukalam is an attempt that requires appreciation where the director has hacked his way through the path less trodden with aplomb. Aadukalam reiterates that Vetrimaaran belongs to the league of film makers who has understood the semiotics of film making perfectly.

Verdict: A winning rooster!

Tags : Aadukalam, Dhanush, Tapasee, Kishore, Vetrimaaran, GV Prakash Kumar
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