Nowadays many directors and producers have the guts to come out with products that defy the set standards of so called commercial ventures. They have dared to be different to make films without fights, glamour, clichéd sentiments, and heroism.
Balaji Sakthivel, who has given us an amazing film 'Kadhal' is undoubtedly one such filmmaker. In fact he has been one of the trendsetters in the recent times for realistic films that defy the set rules. Kalloori, his latest offering under the banner of director Shankar’s 'S' Pictures, has reiterated Balaji’s mettle as a filmmaker who attempts to make meaningful movies.
'Kallori' is a simple story told in a straight forward manner. It revolves around a group of friends. The portrayal of these friends with varied background provides you an experience of living amidst the circle. The various colours and shades of each person and the emotional ups and downs keep the movie going. The depiction of the sublime friendship is near perfect.
The film begins in a bus that has a lot of collage students heading towards Government Arts Collage in a small town. A set of friends are introduced as long term friends. There is a small build up to the introduction of the hero (Muthu played by newcomer Akhil), who is part and parcel of the circle. All are studying in the same class. They enter into the collage for the first time.
In the class room they see a new girl (Shobhana played by Tamanna), who is strikingly different from the lot. She looks fair. She looks sad. She is aloof. The group sympathizes for her and brings her into its fold. The girl soon becomes part and parcel of the group.
The movie goes on to narrate the collage life with fun and colour. It shows the strength of the friendship besides showing the backgrounds of the friends. Most of them are from poor background. The protagonist has an aim in his life. Being an athlete, he wants to excel in sports and get a good job through sports quota to give his poor family a new lease of life.
Shobhana, a rich girl from an upper caste feels for the boy and helps him achieve his goal. In fact every friend does the same thing but Shobhana does it with some sort of special attachment. Slowly the love develops in the minds of both but they chose to put it on the back seat for the sake of the larger friendship they share with the group. In fact the poor lovers don’t even share their feelings.
The narration moves on to a point when they are compelled by the circumstances to come out with their feelings but life has some other designs. Balaji Saktivel has remarkably recreated the collage atmosphere and the bondage between the friends. The script has deftly handled the struggle between love and friendship. No scene or turning point seems to be unnatural and contrived. He has amazingly extracted natural performances from the cast that is full of newcomers. He has thankfully avoided melodrama and clichéd sentiments.
He has executed some scenes with aplomb. The death in Saleema’s house and the game in the rain stay in our memory. The development of love looks natural. Balaji has worked well in minute things. The grandma of Shobhana sounds proud when she tells about her ancestors. She suddenly turns shy when she mentions about her husband.
The script however, lacks the excitement, which could keep the interest of the audience intact. Though the proceedings are natural and enjoyable, they lack an element that could hold your attention. The result is that you tend to see the movie with a laid back approach.
The climax is powerfully conceived and executed. The shocking mishap that reminds you a real life gruesome happened in Tamilnadu a few years ago. No doubt that it is credibly portrayed. But it doesn’t fit well into the script which moves in a different path right from the beginning. The climax has no answers to the questions raised by the proceedings. It actually evades the crucial issue of the struggle between friendship of a group and the love between two persons among them.
Comparison with 'Kadhal' is inevitable though Balaji would like us to avoid it. Balaji’s directorial skills and execution ability have shown growth in Kalloori. But the film somehow lacks the weight, which was one of the strong points of 'Kadhal'. 'Kallori' is not predictable. But is not an exciting fare either.
Balaji has successfully made everyone perform well. You can’t find any fault with any of the actors. Everyone looks natural. Akhil, Tamanna, Bharani, Arunkumar, Alex, Prakash, Hema, Rajeswari, Sailatha, and Maya Reddy have done well in bringing in the campus atmosphere so naturally. They complement each other.
Tamanna looks fresh and handles her role with ease. Akhil has made a remarkable debutant.
Music director Joshwa Sridhar has done a neat job. The tunes fit into the situations perfectly, while the background score has added another dimension to the narrative. The theme music and the way it is used are effective. Lyricist Na. Muthukumar has rendered some powerful and poetic lines that go in tune with the theme.
Debutant cinematographer Chezhiyan has captured the campus and the near by areas so naturally that sometimes you forget that you are seeing a movie. The picturisation of rain sequence stands out.
Overall, the movie is has natural narration, amazing visual quality, effective music and credible performances. The lack of excitement and the less convincing climax weakens the remarkable efforts of the director and his team.
Finally, Shankar deserves special complements for encouraging such movies that dare to defy the rules to make a better atmosphere in the arena of Tamil film industry.