By Mani Prabhu

Ka Ka Po’s lead man, Kathir, is in many ways, the kind of protagonist you would expect in a Nalan Kumarasamy film. He is delightfully weird. He prefers banana dipped in brandy for his short-eats. He conjures up hilarious natural remedies for every single ailment in the world, at the drop of a hat. He quotes exotic dishes to describe his mood-state very often in conversation. You get the picture, right?

kk1But beyond all this ‘gethu’, he is a loser at his workplace. How would it feel to be a henchman, who is just not made for his job? He has a past, but that’s not bright either. As a rowdy, the only disputes he gets to settle, turn out to be adultery cases. When at last, he is called upon to rectify a bar situation; he ends up battered. And Kathir is played by a vibrant Vijay Sethupathi with his now-familiar signature swag (or non-swag to be precise). Understandably, as these portions pan out, you can’t help but ponder “Haven’t I actually seen this in the recent past?” It’s almost as if Pondy Paandi, having lost his mother, actually started to work as a rowdy for a living!

But Nalan, to his credit, strings the predictable narrative with oodles of charm that don’t allow us the luxury of much thought. Scene after scene, you smile at the way this man subverts the feeling of familiarity, a thing that could have so easily plagued the movie.  Consider the hilarious action sequence in the bar that soon turns out to be dishearteningly real and grounded. Not a single moment seems artificially manufactured.  The humour is refreshingly organic. And when the stretch ends in an absolute stunner of a moment – a brutal antithesis of heroism – you can’t help but reach for the grandest of mass movie festivities, the wolf whistle!


In that way, Ka ka Po, given its lead man’s screen-presence, can be viewed as a ‘mass’ romantic dramedy – an unhurried, evolved and unconventional one at that.

Unconventional, because it pits its lead man with not just-another-mannequin, but an ambitious and relatable female lead.  When we first see Yazhini, her motives seem a little questionable, but we soon warm up to her resoluteness. You can’t probably put a finger on it, but there is something about her that makes us believe that she won’t fall madly love with a weather-beaten rowdy, just because he happens to have a heart. It is this unpredictability – this feeling of knowing Yazhini – that keeps us watching – that literally lights up the second half. But her crazy decision to convince her father, though serving to notch up the hilarity, ends up as the only misstep in her otherwise sensible characterization.

Evolved, because Nalan gives a whole new meaning to the unlikely pair’s relationship arc. At the half way point, when Yazhini realizes that Kadhir stood up for her, when he had no necessity to, she doesn’t thank him. She doesn’t blush. She doesn’t break into a duet. She clicks a friendly selfie with him. It speaks a thousand words. And as the relationship progresses, nothing is simplified for the sake of clarity. Complicated emotions get more complicated. The thin lines between fondness, attraction and love remain tastefully unbreached.

kk2Unhurried, because it doesn’t try to rush things up in its attempt to establish the mood and the characters’ eccentricities, even at the risk of being labelled ‘slow paced’. The temptation to religiously tick off audience boxes is kept at bay. The film just flows with the lead characters’ moods and circumstances.

Nalan here, once again, taps into Santhosh Narayanan’s s strengths to construct moments that brilliantly move the story forward. But all hell breaks loose in the Ka Ka Po track, that builds superbly on the pair’s contrasting vibes. It doesn’t burst out as riotously as ‘Kaasu Panam‘, but it keeps us fittingly entertained. Just like the majority of the film.