"Aham Brahmasmi" is the protagonist's refrain in the film 'Naan Kadavul'. Don't ask me what that means exactly, but I think it means 'I am God' because that's what Naan Kadavul means!
I am sure I cannot elucidate as I should about this film because I am not very knowledgeable on the subject involved. But since this is my blog, I am going to say it like it feels to me.;)
The film is not particularly enjoyable because it revolves around beggars and a sect of sanyasis or sadhus (is there a difference?) called agoris, who are apparently equipped with superior knowledge and insight, as they seem to know how to differentiate the evil from the good with the naked eye. i.e. just by looking at the person. They also believe they have the power to eliminate the evil person. They also believe that they can help a much-suffered soul to attain moksha -- and free him from this life and all future births if they deem fit.
The part of the film that focusses on the agoris is most interesting. The part of the film that focusses on beggar rings, the heartless monsters who run them and the beggars themselves, takes you from depression to anxiety to fear to hatred to repulsion and then to feeling very very sorry for the pathetic victims -- the beggars, that is. The humour that the director (Bala) brings out from the general characters of the film as opposed to usual, 'designated comedians' is commendable and somewhat incongruous (because the beggars seem to enjoy a wonderful sense of humour), but utterly believable.
Then comes a revelation -- the actress Pooja. Honestly, I thought she was only fit to run around trees like a mindless glam girl. But in this film where she plays a blind and most pathetic beggar, she has done very very well. Damn near steals the show. I just hope she dubbed for herself. This is something that always bugs me about many of the Tamil heroines. Anyway, she is no 'heroine' in this film. Just a blind girl to whom a viewer's heart can not only go out to, but in the process, get as battered and broken as the character does! Sigh.
It also had many scenes that say 'accept the disabled into your picture'...as we should. As we had better, rather!
Then comes my favourite -- Arya. This guy is 'wow'. He has always been a good actor(in the few films he has acted in), but in this film, he really gets into the groove and plays his role to the hilt. He has readied his physical appearance for the role and manages many scenes with aplomb in spite of wearing the barest minimum clothing. This takes him nowhere near a pin up boy or anything (!!) because this is simply not that type of film and I am sure there are hardly any other actors who would dare to bare as he does. Male or female, we are not in the garden of Eden & so, this attempt to shed clothes and extra weight, grow hair and maintain it as unkempt, etc. etc. is commendable as it lends a great deal of crediblity to the role. And the scenes where he stands on his head are simply mindblowing. Serious admiration in progress...
This is not a film for those who love sweeping 'unpleasantries' under the carpet or for those who prefer to stay away from films that contain no romance or flowery scenes, show of riches and unnecessary fights. It is also not for people who cannot stand violence or bloodshed.
This is a film for those who appreciate Bala with all his obsession for depression and gloom (!) because he is a director who I think has substance, etches superb characters however sad or pathetic, and executes a neat film with apt music. Ilayarajai scores as usual. Maestro na maestro dhaan.
That said, there were (I am sure) many scenes missing from this film. Seems to have been cut like nobody's business. I believe it was said to have some 'cannabalism' involved as well. Ugh. But did n't get to see it. It was gory enough anyway!
Still, it would have been more interesting to see the full version and find out all that Bala had to say. (Yikes)
Oh and the comedy scenes involving Shivaji-MGR immitating side-actors was really one of the few 'enjoyable' portions of the film.
I don't however think I would want to see it again and again. The pathetic scenes remain fresh in the mind, you see...