Vijay and A.R.Murugadoss are back with their second outing together, Kaththi. The film features Vijay in two contrasting but physically 'identical' dual roles, Kathiresan and Jeevanantham. While Kathir is a crook who is on the run and one with 24 previous visits to the jail, Jeevanantham is a sober, educated activist who strives for the betterment of his impoverished village where water is a big concern. Their paths cross very early in the movie and the film is set in motion.
Vijay has used this opportunity to play diverse roles in the same movie and proves his experience as a performer and as an entertainer. While Kathir is high on theatrics and is the Vijay that we have enjoyed on screen in many mass entertainers, Jeeva is fresh and non-Vijay in every aspect. Kathir is bound to be a fan favorite while the audiences are likely to empathize with Jeeva and his motives. In that aspect, Kaththi is a strong movie for the actor Vijay.
Coming to director A.R.Murugadoss, he has touched upon many issues close to his heart such as rampant corruption, farmer suicides, the plight of senior citizens, water scarcity, the workings of the sensational news-hungry media and also goes on to vilify the corporates and their aggressive expansion plans without considering their CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives. The one scene late in the second half, when Vijay delivers an intense monologue on the above mentioned issues, is a definite highlight in the overall scheme of things. But it does try to get a little manipulative as the director has played to the gallery to win the audience's sympathy towards farmers and make us root for his protagonist.
One feels Murugadoss could have gone a step forward and tightened the screenplay. The placement of all the songs leaves a lot to be desired, specially the much talked about 'Selfie Pulla'. 'Aathi' is delightfully shot whereas 'Pakkam Vandu', though a different exercise doesn't make an impact. But the dancer Vijay sparkles effortlessly in all these songs. Kaththi doesn't engage consistently as some sizzling moments are interspersed with moments of restlessness. The length of the movie is another drawback. The Thuppakki hangover continues in Kaththi to an extent. If Thuppakki was an ode to the Army, Kaththi is dedicated to the farmers of the land.
Anirudh as usual adds lot of strength through his BGM score. If you hear the theatre roar for some of the strong scenes, the major part of the credit should go to him. The other youngster on board, DoP George C Williams makes a smooth transition to the big commercial space with some solid work on the visuals, the lighting patterns and the angles.
Among the other performers, Neil Nitin Mukesh is a new addition to the list of suave, stylish villains. His voice and the dubbing elevate his overall performance. Samantha is sadly what you may call the 'typical commercial cinema heroine' who appears in the songs, few romantic scenes and stands in the background while the hero takes charge.
All the actors who play the pivotal senior citizens are convincing. Sathish as Vijay's buddy makes a mark as well. Speaking of Anal Arasu's stunt choreography, it should be a delight for Vijay's fans and the star's celebrated screen presence and agility come to the fore in these extended treats.
To sum up, Kaththi is a grand production which rides on Vijay's dual roles, the social interest angle and some impactful scenes which are part of the mix.