Mani Ratnam’s straight Tamil film after ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’ (Has it been 10 years already?) reuniting him with his ‘Bombay’ DOP Rajeev Menon, A.R Rahman’s music making waves after a tepid ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ ~Kadal was possibly the most expected Tamil film of 2013.

As the story goes, we follow an orphaned Thomas (Gautam, son of Karthik, in a dream debut) in a seaside fishing hamlet, wavering between Good (Arvindswamy in a comeback of sorts) & Evil (Arjun going all-out in a negative role) Thrown in between is Beatrice (Thulasi, yesteryear actress Radha’s 2nd daughter debuts)

Positives,Firstly – Music, the question that gets passed around quite a bit – Does Rahman reserves his absolute best for Mani (or) Does Mani Ratnam bring out the best from Rahman? Whichever one it is, It has been true all this while & it remains the same for ‘Kadal’. The soundtrack is truly a revelation & is definitely Rahman’s best effort in quite a while. With a commendable background score, Rahman is one of the standouts of ‘Kadal’.

Cinematography, Rajeev Menon, who Mani Ratnam last worked with in ‘Bombay’, creates some of the most magical visuals seen on the screen. Apparently, they went out to sea to shoot during ‘Cyclone Nilam’ last year. The climax scenes in the storm really comes to life on-screen.

The actors, Gautam does well as Thomas, he could be going places. Thulasi, manages to look good, with however minimal screen time she gets. She’s got a long long way to go before looking at serious roles though. Arvindswamy, last seen in a cameo in Alaipayuthey, manages to make an impression.

Now, negatives, the one that almost everyone has pointed out – The length itself. I tweeted soon after the show that it is a tedious watch, certain scenes could’ve been done away at the editing table. Also it just didn’t feel like the payoff was just there! Yes, Thomas seeks out redemption & Yes, he does find her but something crucial was missing! Just can’t put my finger on it~

Arjun’s negative portrayal (It was Bergmans right?) gets on your nerves quite a bit. We get it, you’re Satan’s reincarnation, you don’t have to keep saying that at the end of every dialog. Maybe it was the dialect, but it got quite difficult to follow the dialogue at certain moments.

For me Raavan/Raavanan doesn’t rank with anything he’s done before (Yes, even those bilinguals) but Kadal was completely different from what I expected. I’d rate it definitely higher than his previous effort but there’s a more interesting transition here in play here. I think its time we stopped expecting another Mouna Ragam / Agni Natchathiram from him. What I expect are films which deviate quite a bit from what’s he achieved in the past. We consider all of Mani Ratnam’s films to be classics, maybe future generations will see Kadal in a different light.