(The unknown, always losing team thrown into the limelight of a major kabaddi tournament, aided by a helping professional coach who takes pity on them)
It is interesting and comforting to know that quality Tamil movies are being made these days and one of the gems in the movie titled “Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu” (translated Vennila Kabadi Team)
The simple story of the underdogs beating all odds and we all have seen it before in many other movies. Lagaan is one such example – where desperate villagers playing cricket against the ruling British forces on an unjust law. Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu is one such movie along with the same premise. But what’s make it different is the details of the plot, natural camera-work and great music.
The entire story unfolds in a remote village near Madurai. The hero of the movie is Marimuthu who as a small boy had to stop schooling when his father passes away and had to lead a life of cowherd. He joins with other small boys in the village from different background and level in one passion – playing kabadi.
What begins as a soft romance between a poor young boy Marimuthu and a young girl (played by the lovely Saranya Mohan), who comes to the village for the yearly fair soon takes a turn. Marimuthu along with his childhood friends Subramani, Ayyappan, Sekar, Murthy, Ganesan, Appu Kutty and Pandi yearn and crave to win a kabadi tournament.
Their Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu is popular for they never managed to win a tournament (and often made fun by their parents and the villagers).
They manage to find themselves by chance in a State-level tournament when one of the selected team unable to attend the match at the last minute due to a traffic accident, expected to be knocked out in the very first round.
But the bunch of young men, who share different thoughts and ideas, with the help of Souda Muthu, a professional kabadi coach (he does a nice trick to motivate them – he takes away all their cash leaving them no choice to win the game), emerge as winners.
As they proceed, many difficulties are thrown such as Marimuthu, the star player having a shoulder dislocation during a match. However, even with such troubles, with the help of their coach, they win all their remaining games and progress to the final.
The final starts off poorly, but after half time, Vennila is back in contention. As the game ends in a tie, a player from each team goes up individually against each other. In the final stages of the head-to-head, Marimuthu wins the game for Vennila.
The scene changes to several months later when the young girl returns to the place they met, and is searching for Marimuthu (who is no where to be seen – this is where we see a sad twist to the story). The movie ends this way.
What is the other interesting thing about this movie is the beautiful portrait of the village and the lifestyle of the people especially when they are having a major celebration.
(Appu Kutty, the tea shop owner, being coaxed by his friends, Marimuthu & Ayyapan to go to the fair but Appu Kutty hesitates. He needs to get his wife’s permission first but ran instead into his nagging mother in law)
Equally appealing is the art work by G C Anandhan. An able craftsman, he has created the rural village well before our eyes. Especially, the grand décor in ‘thiruvizha’ scenes is amazing.
The soft lens of J Laxman and crispy dialogues by Baskar Sakthi brings before our eyes the innocence that prevails in the daily life in villages.
Director, Susindhran have managed to bring the feel and colour of both the village and the kabadi games as realistic as possible.
Camera work is excellent utilising the similar concepts used in Anjathey where some shots are taken at low angles where you only see the legs of the characters in the movie but it is easy to understand the story.
(The old man pointing to Marimuthu where to go next – in search of his girl)
There are also shots taken from the characters point of view for example when Marimuthu runs around the village looking for the young girl and lost her, he meets up with an old man walking past him.
The old man points the direction of the girl had gone with his stick. At this time, the camera looks from the old man’s point of view – we see the stick in front, pointing the direction to Marimuthu.
One of the best things about this movie is the good loads of comedy especially from “wife fearing, mother-in-law hating” Appu Kutty and the highlights are:-
- Subramani who like to eat all the time entering prota eating contest – the shop owner allows him to enter the contest after judging wrongly on his small built. The guy manages to eat 50 protas but the waiter cheats and insists that the guy only eat 42 pieces. A small argument starts and when everyone thinks that Subramani will walk away defeated, Subramani will say that waiter’s calculation is wrong and therefore he wants to start again, to the waiter’s surprise
- When they enter the big match arena and the crowd is hardly clapping, Appu Kutty will look around and tells his friends happily that there are 11 people in the arena clapping for them.
(Appu Kutty all arms to whack his torturing mother in law)
- Appu Kutty takes the opportunity of a contest to whack his much-hated mother in law on the head
- Ayyapan’s mother crying as Ayyapan gets ready to leave with his friends for the kabaddi but Ayyapan’s father (ex-military man) scolds the mother, the mother calms down and said she cried because she thought her son is leaving to be in the military service.
- Appu Kutty complains about the classroom that was provided as their accommodation – when Subramani asks why Appu Kutty says that he finished 6th grade in the village and now he is sleeping in a 6th-grade classroom. He then proposes to change the classroom to a higher grade.
(Appu Kutty not happy being in the 6th-grade classroom, only to be silenced by an angry and sleepy Subramani)
- Appu Kutty cycling as fast as possible during a slow race (loved the camera angle of Appu Kutty riding the bicycle fast)
No major actors and perhaps that is what this movie click nicely. There is no evidence of overacting anywhere and everyone is so natural in their roles.
(Subramani all ready for the 50 prota eating contest)
The cream of the act is the good relationship between the actors and the comical chemistry between Subramani and Appu Kutty.
Music director, Selvaganesh’s first movie but he did a superb job – every song and music is simply mesmerising. When I first hear the songs, I thought music was done by GV Prakash – very similar in style and rhythm but then realised it was done by someone new.
(A good shot of the young girl saying goodbye to Marimuthu without anyone knowing about it. Add a piece of sad background music and the effect is overwhelming)
One review on the net states whilst Selvaganesh excelled in the songs, he failed to do a proper background music. Although it is a matter of one’s preference, I have to disagree with this. The lovely music when Marimuthu sees the young girl at the fair and the drumbeat during the kabaddi games worked well with the theme of underdogs fighting their way through.
Clearly one of the best movie
The plus points: The plot, dialogue (very original), camera work, music and comedy
The negative points: The climax (I had hoped for a better ending)
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