“Kaduva,” which means tiger in Malayalam, is a masala action film directed by the veteran filmmaker Shaji Kailas, released on the big screens on July 7 and has been streaming on Amazon Prime Video since August 4, 2022. Shaji Kailas is known to be the king of mass films since the 1990s, and has delivered nothing new in terms of filmmaking through “Kaduva.” Starring Prithviraj and Vivek Oberoi in the lead, writer Jinu Abraham, Shaji Kailas has given the audience one of many dull fares to have been released on the big screen as well on the OTT space.
Set in the 1990s in Pala, Kerala, “Kaduva” begins with Kuriachan, a rich planter who is arrested and brought to Kottayam Central Jail where he is almost killed by goons. Through another cellmate, also from Pala, one comes to know of Kuriachan, locally known as “Kaduva” Kuriachan. A no-nonsense rich man, who is not only a Samaritan but is known for being rowdy at times to get things done his way. The IG of police, Joseph Chandy, lives in the same town with his wife, children, and mother. Joseph Chandy’s mother agrees to help frame a corrupt bishop of their church but changes her statement at the right moment. Furious at her behavior, Kuriachan insults her, Joseph, and their entire family publicly. Joseph vows to seek revenge on Kuriachan as he decides to use all his might as a top cop to harass Kuriachan and his family.
Will the revenge cycle end soon? Or will it go back and forth without any end in sight? Why does the plot seem too familiar to Ayyapanum Koshiyum?
Director Shaji Kailas, through “Kaduva,” has delivered nothing but formulaic so-called masala entertainers, which is neither entertaining nor content that will keep the audience hooked. This two-hour, three-minute snooze fest begins rather uninterestingly, with an action sequence so predictable that anyone by miles knew who would survive this god-awful fight and who wouldn’t. It is high time directors like Shaji Kailas, whose niche is these kinds of movies, start experimenting with masala entertainers rather than repackaging the same old style of filmmaking and presenting and marketing the films as something different.
Shaji Kailas is known to have delivered cult classic films in the 1990s, most of them great in terms of story and filmmaking for that time. But with “Kaduva,” Shaji Kailas loses the plot from the prologue itself. There is no reason to add a predictable fight sequence to showcase the strength of Kuriachan. The film carries so many unnecessary back and forth action sequences between the protagonist and the antagonist and the police force that it gets repetitive from the beginning itself. The story is like Ayyapanum Koshiyum but comes nowhere close to the finesse of the critically acclaimed Sachy film.
Since the story is set in the 1990s, it would have been best if the whole film was left in 1990 and never picked up. Jinu Abrahams does nothing new with the storytelling aspect. It is the same rehashed, repackaged version of every masala entertainer of that decade. Dialogues, which were considered mass then, are now considered cringe. Action sequences that were considered worth clapping are now sleep-inducing.
The screenplay does nothing for the story as there is nothing but back-to-back inconsequential subplots about political rivalry within a party and many more that have nothing to offer in the bigger scheme of the narrative. Jinu relied heavily on the popularity of Ayyapanum Koshiyum and the story of two ego-fuelled men going at each other without worrying much about themselves. That concept does not work with “Kaduva” because the screenplay is neither strong nor realistic, and the premise does not fit the story. It has been tried and tested by Sachy and cannot be used again just to gain numbers. This is a version of Ayyapanum Koshiyum gone bad. The reason why this Sachy film is being mentioned multiple times because the resemblance of “Kaduva” to that film is uncanny.
The overstretched, overlong screenplay affected the editing of the film. The cinematography of the film, though, is stunning. Abinandhan Ramanujam did fantastic work with his camera, but that isn’t enough to keep the film going. The performances of the leads, Prithviraj and Vivek Oberoi, are loud and over the top. The actors seem to be sleep-walking through the film—one of the few Prithviraj films in recent years with no content. Vivek Oberoi’s dubbing done by Vineeth is fantastic. Vivek Oberoi did seem to have worked hard on the dialogues to be perfectly synced with Vineeth’s voice and words. Shaji Kailas’s “Kaduva” shouldn’t be on your must-watch list, even if you have three hours to spare and nothing much to do.
“Kaduva” is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video with subtitles.