Sivakarthikeyan’s star is on the rise, so you can’t just cut to him in the midst of a scene in your movie. But he doesn’t have that larger-than-life image – not yet, anyway – and he’s still known more as a comedian. How, then, to plan the hero-introduction shot? In Kaaki Sattai, the director RS Durai Senthilkumar has it both ways. He thrusts us into a brawl in a police station, with thugs who look like they wouldn’t hesitate to slit their mother’s throat, and a constable warns them, “Just wait till Mathimaran gets here.” He’s referring to some sort of supercop, clearly. And on cue, we cut to a jeep that’s coming at us in slow motion. The driver, of course, is Sivakarthikeyan (he’s Mathimaran) – but we don’t see him all at once. We see him tap his fingers on the steering wheel. Then we see his eyes, then his feet as he slips out of the vehicle. And once he’s standing, the camera rises slowly, from his feet to his face. He strides into the scene we were in and threatens those thugs, like any big star playing a cop would. The twist? A little later, we see it’s all a dream. He’s just a constable.
This dichotomy is evident throughout Kaaki Sattai. The name comes from a Kamal Haasan hit, and there’s a nod to Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu. Rajinikanth is invoked through his cop movie, Moondru Mugam. The story, too, is pretty heavy-duty, one that would suit a bigger “mass” star, with a heftier screen presence. It has to do with the illegal organ trade (poor Vijay Raaz is the villain), and just few weeks ago, we saw Ajith tackle this issue in his cop movie Yennai Arindhaal. Can Sivakarthikeyan step into all those shoes? That’s really what Kaaki Sattai is about.
As overlong, utterly generic, badly written, indifferently made action-comedy star vehicles propelled by Anirudh’s growling guitar riffs go, Kaaki Sattai is as disposable as they come. The laughs aren’t great. The romance (with Sridivya) is perfunctory – you could use that word for the drama, the attempts at punch lines. The big action sequences look odd because they’re choreographed with a mega-star in mind and on screen we see Sivakarthikeyan. He’s a bantamweight duelling it out in the heavyweight category. He looks a little out-of-place in those foreign-location songs too, executing steps with foreign dancers – the charm of a local-flavoured Oodha colouru ribbon is a distant memory. But maybe in a few films, we will no longer feel this dissonance about a comedian trying to be a big “mass” star. After all, as Mathimaran cannily reminds us, we do have the example of a bus conductor who became a superstar.
- Kaaki Sattai = a cop’s uniform
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