You would think Shankar's name under the word "producer" would guarantee a social message alongside a story of one action hero against the system along with lavish over-the-top picturizations, the whole glorious masala works. But instead with Kaadhal, Shankar is merely helping along a film maker with his own style and plenty of talent: Balaji Shakthivel leaves his own mark.
The story of Kaadhal (one of the few Tamil words I know - means, of course, love) is that of an eloping young couple. How they met and fell in love is told in flashback along with the story of their elopement. The journey is not without setbacks, and just about everything in the movie is wonderfully in touch with reality. The leads are attractive, but not in a very film-esque manner and the problems we see them facing are not out of this world. There is only one song picturization that transcends reality and has the couple dancing in beautiful locations. Most of the film music in the movie is in the background - old Tamil film songs heard on the radio, played in street shop etc.
Bharath, who debuted alongside Siddharth in Shankar's Boys, is the hero of the movie and perfect fit. He was my second favourite 'Boy' in the aforementioned film, but I only really noticed his talent here. Sandhya, the female lead, was also impressive. I especially enjoyed the fact this is one movie where the heroine does the chasing - Bharath's character is mostly awkward at the attention this pretty, upper caste girl is showing him. She makes her way into his heart and comes off as somewhat naive but lovable all the same. There is one scene in particular which portrays the sexual desire between the young couple beautifully; innocent but steamy, and not the slightest bit sleazy.
For all the sweetness this film serves up during the first half, it is one of the movies which has affected me the most with the turns the story takes during the second half. Kaadhal is well worth the DVD price (Ayngaran has a good version of it, which I bought in London back in March) and I could even recommend it to newbies of Tamil cinema. Something that has to be said about Indian cinema is that for all the formulas it keeps reusing, it's amazing how wonderfully it still manages to squeeze out something refreshing and touching out of some of the most used stories. I guess all it takes is a capable director.