“Kumki”… Tusk force

Three decades after its release, Sridhar’s ill-fated Ninaivellam Nithya is suddenly the flavour of the season. If Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Neethane En Ponvasantham invokes a megahit song from the film – from Ilayaraja at his godliest phase – Prabu Solomon’s Kumki is a throwback to that kind of tragedy-tainted story, of an outsider falling for a girl from a closed-off, tradition-bound tribal community. A roustabout named Bommaa (Vikram Prabhu, making a promising debut) and his beloved elephant Manickam slip into a village under false pretences. There, he sees Alli (Lakshmi Menon) and is hit by the proverbial thunderbolt. Adding to the dangers the discovery of this relationship poses, there’s a marauding wild elephant that the villagers believe Manickam will be able to drive away — the sad joke is that Manickam is no kumki, the kind of creature that does that kind of job. But once these specifics are established, the film goes nowhere very quickly.

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It takes far too long for Alli to even realise Bommaa’s feelings for her – leave alone reciprocate them – and the parallel track of training Manickam into the pachydermal equivalent of border patrol isn’t brought out very thrillingly either. For the film to really work, Manickam needed to come across as a creature as alive as the tiger in Life of Pi. But a bigger problem arises from the long-running, mood-killing comedy track by the ubiquitous Thambi Ramaiah, who plays Bommaa’s uncle. (Seeing this actor, these days, I never fail to be reminded of that immortal line from Saattai: “This is the buttocks.”) And worse, towards the end, this character turns deadly earnest – it’s hard not to wince at the crude manipulation. The only surprise in this CineMadurai venture is that it references not only the expected Ilayaraja hits (Dheiveega raagam, Indraikku yen indha aanandhame, Poongathu thirumbuma) but also Harris Jayaraj’s Ennamo edho. And the only highlight is Imman’s stunning score. That’s another way Kumki resembles Ninaivellam Nithya. Three decades from now, the music is all we’ll remember.

Copyright ©2012 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

11 thoughts on ““Kumki”… Tusk force

  1. Let me be the first to post. The first half was filled with moments tickling the funny bone. The second half did not work for me. The screenplay started lagging and the movie was going nowhere. I feel the cinematographer deserves a mention, Sukumar. He wielded the camera for “Mynaa” as well. I loved his work in this movie. Why you didn’t mention anything about the visuals?

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  2. Yes, liked it a lot despite its imperfections. Though to be frank, I watched only YVM. This being relatively dialogue heavy and my Telugu not as good, missed watching in Tamil.

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  3. Yeah, I liked NEP as well, though I had read certain early reviews that were not so complimentary. I was pleasantly surprised that my experience was different. Sure, there were some issues with the movie, but on the whole, there wasn’t much to complain about. From a Raja perspective, I felt the songs could have been dealt better. But this being a talkathon, maybe it didn’t lend itself to dream sequences. For example, seeing the picturisation, I so badly wanted Vaanam Mella to be shot like say Putham puthu bhoomi from TT….a verdant landscape filled with mist and the lead pair singing with the camera hovering around them. So, those were the quibbles from my side…the songs could have been shot better. Also, there wasn’t much scope for BGM as well…cinematography could have been better.

    But on the whole, the movie was satisfactory….

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  4. Kumki was a horrible movie from a screenplay standpoint. So the movie is setup in the first 10 minutes. Great. David vs Goliath. Well David meets Goliath for a couple of minutes in the end and David gets rid of Goliath. Well, unfortunately the middle 150 minutes has nothing to do with David or Goliath. BTW, David and Goliath are elephants – so they have nothing to do in the middle 150 minutes !!!

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  5. the reference to NN was really apt :) .. luvd the review… but i felt even NN had some better scenes..:P

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