Cast: Vijay, Asin, Vadivelu, Rajkiran and Mithra Kurian
One has always felt that a rank bad Hollywood film is far better than a rank bad Bollywood feature. And a rank bad Bollywood movie is any day better than a rank bad Tamil work. Films from Tamil Nadu seem to be getting increasingly repetitive and idea stealers.
With performances vulgarly dramatised - that resemble badly produced street theatre - Tamil movies, if allowed this free fall, will soon be overshadowed by Malayalam cinema, which despite modest budgets manages to get a good story and weave it into an engaging script. There is a disarming sense of realism in many of the pictures that emerge from Kerala.
Seddiqi's Kavalan (in Tamil) - which faced major hurdles before its release because of grievances that distributors/exhibitors had with its lead star, Vijay - has an apology for a story. Vijay plays Boominathan, a young man who does not need to pass academic examinations to master subjects like Shakespeare.
When his guru, Muthuramalingam/Rajkiran (a once-upon-a-time thug who transforms himself into a social worker) needs a kavalan (or bodyguard), Boominathan is only too willing to slip into a khaki uniform.
Never mind, he ends up guarding Muthuramalingam's daughter, Meera (Asin), and goes with her and her friend, Madhu (Mithra Kurian), to college. Meera falls in love with Boominathan and expresses her feelings via mobile phone. He doesn't know who he's talking with but falls in love with the faceless voice in what seems like an endless blind date. The climax could not have been more incredulous.
Kavalan has little to offer in other spheres. Both Vijay and Asian sleepwalk through the gaudily coloured frames, and Vadivelu's antics are as insufferable as ever. His mannerism, his costumes and what he passes off as jokes merely indicate a certain audacity on the part of Tamil cinema to treat its ticket-paying audiences as a bunch of fools.