'Kabadadaari' film review: a slightly interesting police proceedings

The Tamil remake of Kannada film ‘Kavaludaari’ could have used more zing

Sibiraj in ‘Kabadadaari’  ??

Sakthi is a traffic cop who plays chess as a hobby. He triumphs in a match against a child early in the movie and says, "Oru sadhaarna sippai raja va adichittan (The ordinary soldier won against the king)." 

In many respects, in the police department, he himself is a pawn in the scheme of things. His daily routine is unexciting: wake up at 6 am, do a few push-ups and report near traffic signals for duty and reprimand those who ride without helmets or licences.

Sakthi, however, aspires to be much more and to immerse himself in the rather exciting world of pursuing those who commit greater crimes. His goal is to be a cop who breaks unsolved mysteries, but he's only a pawn in real life, with no kingdom to conquer, no war to wage. 

Like Sakthi, Kumar (Jayaprakash) is also a pawn; he is also bereft of purpose as the editor of Lock-Up News, a newspaper that no one really reads. The two stumble upon something and soon, their detective-like instincts kick in (a few skeletons are accidentally discovered near an area he is monitoring). Is there a greater thing than what meets the eye? Is there an old case that Sakthi can hope to solve, ultimately?

'Kabadadaari' is the remake of the 'Kavaludaari' Kannada film, which was acclaimed for its screening. The Tamil version, much like the original, sticks to the core plotline too. Fortunately, there aren't any major masala add-ons. But 'Kabadadaari' suffers from a feeling of artificialness throughout; in the performances, in the delivery of dialogue. It's brief when Sakthi talks with Swathi (Nandita Sweta, in a minor role). It is just chatter when Sakthi interacts with Ramya (Suman Rangannathan, with a jarring performance). These all come as lines, not as conversations.

There is tension in the music (the thumping background score of Simon King adds value), but sometimes, in the performances, it just doesn't show. Sibiraj has the build and earnestness to play a cop, but the simmering tension he's supposed to be carrying is not fully conveyed. 

The rich original material that he taps into, however, is what helps director Pradeep Krishnamoorthy. A few sequences are well-staged; the sweet irony of a traffic situation that is returning to haunt Sakthi plays out nicely. It helps that Jayaprakash and Nasser have two seasoned performers to back him up. A few interesting revelations about the climax will also appeal, particularly to those who have not caught up with the original.