Cast Dhanush, Paapsee Pannu, Jayabalan and Neryn
Vetrimaran's Aadukalam follows a trend set by K. Sasikumar in his 2008 path-breaking Subramaniapuram. This low-budget film was critically acclaimed for its original script, extraordinary direction, imaginative editing and accurate sets. Sasikumar brought to life the 1980s Madurai, a famous Indian temple town, with unbelievable authenticity.
Several movies tried copying Subramaniapuram but ended up merely having Madurai as a background. Aadukalam is no exception. Much like most of Indian cinema, which still believes that its ticket-paying viewers want to enjoy just about every aspect of life (comedy, tragedy, romance, songs and dances, fights and chases in a high melodramatic mode) in a single film, Vetrimaran's work tries hard to package a whole gamut of issues in about 180 minutes - and fails to convince us about anything.
But, what do you expect when the movie begins with a bloody rooster fight, and then digresses into romance between a village bumpkin (Dhanush's Karuppu) who is an expert on breeding prize-winning roosters and a sophisticated Anglo-Indian collegian, Irene Claude (Taapsee Pannu)? Not just this, there is jealousy that Karuppu's hero Pettikaran (Jayabalan), harbours against his young wife, an envy that eats into him. Pettikaran has an arch rival, Rathnaswamy (Neryn), a cop merrily indulging in a sport that is abhorred by animal activists. However, the film steers clear of angering them by saying right at the onset that the rooster fights were digitally created.
Likewise, a lot of Aadukalam appears to have been conceived in a way that is far removed from reality.
The scenes featuring Karuppu and Irene are suffocatingly pretentious. Finally, Aadukalam seems like a playing field where too many sports are vying for your attention.