Kaari Movie Review: We have seen numerous themes in Tamil cinema that incorporate the popular ancient sport of bull taming – Jallikattu – into their core plots. Sasikumar’s kaari is no different. What’s special here, though, is that the rural action-drama also touches on themes like animal liberation, corporate greed, the ethics of meat consumption, and other issues we rarely encounter.
While the ideas are great and the staging is also quite promising in the first half, the plot becomes cliché as the film progresses and has less effect on the viewer.
Beginning as a typical rural actioner, Kaari discusses the rivalry between two villages near Ramanad, Karyalur and Sivanenthal, and how organizing a Jallikattu sport would help them solve the problem. The winner is allowed to assume authority over the administration of the Karuppan Temple, which is common to both. At the same time, we also meet Sethu (Sasikumar), a jockey who works at a horse racing stable in Chennai. His father Vellasaamy (Aadukalam Narein), who works with him in the stable, is a socially responsible man and someone who never shys away from questioning wrongdoers. Meanwhile, we also get a glimpse of a corporate boss, SKR (JD Chakravarthy), who is involved in the meat business and animal exploitation.
While everything seems fine, Sethu’s life takes a turn when his father dies of cardiac arrest minutes after his favorite horse was shot. What brings the people of Karyalur and Sethu together and how SKR’s business would affect their lives forms the rest of the crux.
Director Hemanth’s writing style is effective for the most part, and his ambitious screenplay includes subtle discussion of certain topics that aren’t very common. It also touches on the human-animal bond with a few well-shot scenes, including the death of a pet horse and the disappearance of a bull that was being kept as family. However, as the film progresses, especially when we’re expecting something monumental on screen, the director disappoints us by inserting routine sequences typically associated with genres like this. JD Chakravarthy’s character sketch looks flat and doesn’t emphasize the plot, which would otherwise have been intense.
There are few combination scenes between Sasikumar and JD Chakravarthy, and sometimes we wonder why the latter was even brought into a topic like this.
The Jallikattu sequences that appear in the pre-climax part are quite interesting and unique. Footage of the Karuppa (a bull of the highest quality) charging out of Vaadi Vaasal for the villagers to tame is a delight to watch. Sethu falls in love with a girl (Parvathy Arun) in a nearby village that owns Karuppa, and little did he know that fate would lead him to tame the same bull that is considered a hero. Parvathy Arun is another talent to watch out for. Her performance after Karuppa the Bull’s disappearance is great and she lives up to the role. Even though Ammu Abirami doesn’t have much leeway, she did her best. Samyuktha Shanmughanathan plays JD Chakravarthy’s wife and she gives a decent performance. Redin Kingsley, who only makes a brief appearance in the first half, gives us this comical relief with his not-so-funny one-liners.
Rural themes are Sasikumar’s favorites and it’s well known that his screen presence would easily highlight a theme like this. Surprisingly, however, Sasikumar appeared more convincing as a horse jockey than as a bull tamer. Not to mention, Balaji Sakthivel, who plays Parvathy’s father, did a great job too. The technical aspects of the film are excellent, including the cinematography and the background music. Both Ganesh Chandhrra and D. Imman took the script to a higher level.
Kaari is interesting and at times captivating, but not effective enough for audiences to remember.