At a time when directors are ticking off boxes for a stereotypical film, director Madhumita chooses to narrate a story that is unconventional in content and does not come with the trappings of a star.
‘KD’, aka Karuppu Durai, is a simple tale of the bonding of two strangers — one an 80-year-old man and the other an 8-year-old orphan. It wins hearts with its sincerity and goodness.
‘KD’ opens inside the home of Karuppu Durai (Mu Ramasamy) who has been in a coma for a long time. With expenses mounting and the patience of caregivers waning, ‘thalaikoothal’ seems to be the solution for his children.
Thalaikoothal, the traditional practice of senicide (killing of the elderly) or involuntary euthanasia, used to be prevalent in parts of Tamil Nadu. It typically involves giving the senior citizen an extensive oil bath at dawn and then making them drink glasses of tender coconut water to induce death with multi-organ failure.
At Karuppu Durai’s home, only his youngest daughter protests against thalaikoothal and reminds her siblings of their father who raised them in the absence of his wife. While they are in deep discussion, and unknown to them, Karuppu Durai wakes up from his coma and overhears their murderous plans. Pained by this, he leaves home in the darkness of night.
A good Samaritan gives him a lift on his two-wheeler to a bus stand where he embarks on an unknown journey. When the bus breaks down en route, KD finds shelter and food inside a temple. His meeting with Kutty (Nagavishal) there, an orphan being raised by the temple priest, takes him on a new journey and KD finds a new meaning to life. KD becomes a child in the company of Kutty and coaxed by Kutty he thinks of a bucket list that they set out to tick off.
Turning a melancholic subject of death into a humorous and feel-good tale, Madhumita’s screenplay is brilliant. Sabarivasan Shanmugam’s dialogues are well rooted in a rural milieu. With raw and realistic scenes, Madhumita’s exploration of a rural story comes as a whiff of fresh air in the melee of masala-drenched films. ‘KD’ is sincere and poignant. Ramasamy and Nagavishal complement each other very well. Nagavishal is phenomenal and on debut strikes a good pace with veteran Ramasamy who juggles through several emotions.
When Kutty first appears on-screen, he questions Karuppu Durai on occupying his place in the temple courtyard. Kutty is street-smart with a cockiness in his talk but it never becomes rude. That makes the little boy endearing not only to the audience but to Karuppu Durai.
The camaraderie KD and Kutty share will keep you chuckling often. One of my favourite scenes is KD meeting his lover from his young days; the scene of the elderly pair with greying hair catching up is charming and without silly melodrama.
Madhumita adds an element of suspense with KD’s family hiring a professional, Hitler (Yog Japee), to bring back their father. As you invest in the journey of the oddball duo, Madhumita teases you with moments when Hitler is at their arm’s reach, only to lose them again.
The final scene is a classic one. While being neutral on the subject of thalaikoothal, Madhumita eggs viewers on to seek out those little joys that make life beautiful and meaningful. Tamil cinema clearly needed this break. Watch ‘KD’ with your family.
Don’t miss it!
‘KD’ is out now in the UAE.