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Kadamban is the latest action adventure film directed by N Ragavan starring actor Arya in the titular role. Arya manages to impress the audience with his efforts to pull off a dynamic member of an indigenous tribe that is suffocating under the pressure of the corrupt government officials and greedy corporations. However, the film falls flat. The story of Kadamban is not something unheard of. This film deals with an ongoing humanitarian crisis that began when the human civilisation first discovered the benefits of cutting a tree. Big corporations exploiting the lands of indigenous people for their profits around the world is a real story. And we have seen it unfold on the big screen several times and in different ways in the past. In 2009, director James Cameron showed the same story unravelling in an alien planet in Avatar.
Kadamban is a torchbearer of sorts for a tribe, whose people have protected the forests and its belongings for generations. Mahendra (Deepraj Rana), a corporate honcho, uses all the tricks from the old book to convince them to rehabilitate elsewhere so that his company can illegally mine the limestone around the forests peacefully without anyone to challenge him. When he fails to succeed with the cruel ploy, he decides to commit genocide. He sends men with guns and bombs, and police boots to squeeze the life out of the tribe. Many people die and the few survivors include Kadamban. With the remaining members of his tribe, Kadamban wages a war against the powerful and influential who meted out injustice to his people. How does Kadamban win the war with his bamboo spears against the machine gun-wielding criminals forms the rest of the story. And there is no surprise in there.
The narration moves at a pace that tests the patience as the film gets very predictable. You can tell when an attack and counter-attack will happen ten minutes before it actually happens on the screen. The action sequences in the film do not involve a lot of fistfights but revolve around Kadamban’s Tarzan-esque skills.
However, it will also be unfair to simply write off this film despite its many failings. Arya has delivered the best performance in his career so far in this film. Cinematography SR Sathish Kumar has explored the scenic landscape of the forests of Kodaikanal very well. And the director has also made a decent use of special effects. The stunts are also entertaining to some extent. However, the film suffers from an average writing, which is a result of poor research. The director could have at least studied how hyenas attack their preys before composing a forgettable CG sequence in a night effect. And a pack of hyenas in Tamil Nadu forests, really?
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In parts, the film does deal with big ideas like primitivism vs modern civilisation and whether the quality of life is defined by the way we live or the comforts that we enjoy. While Ragavan’s writing and filmmaking techniques give the glimpses of his ambition to narrate an engaging and heart-wrenching story of a suffering tribe, his inability to go beyond the obvious has failed to deliver a convincing emotional drama that could have helped the film to hold the attention of the audience.