K.D. ( Karrupu Durai)- A Review.
“Mera Naam Abdul Rehman!”
So goes a hit Tamil song from the 60s. It is a village festival. Karuppu Durai, aka K.D. (Mu Ramaswamy), a 70-year-old gent, and Kutty (Naga Vishal), a 10-year-old wise young lad, have crept into the festival competition. The competition is who can mimic and be MGR (MG Ramachandran, the Tamil superstar, and later CM) best. Some people have already been on stage and have been hooted off. In comes K.D. and makes a good impression of MGR singing this song. The crowd votes him in, and they win a cup.
Kutty strikes off another "To Do" from the Bucket list he wrote when he and KD became friends.
Yes, they are friends as Kutty is an orphan who was left at a local temple's door. And KD is an older man whose family were discussing how to kill him (Euthanasia or Thalaikoothal they call it in Tamil, an ancient practice) when he was lying in a coma. So, K.D. has run away from home and is living it up with Kutty, who also has nowhere to go.
Kutty writes up this bucket list as K.D. does not know how to read and write. And Kutty finds out devious ways of finishing each wish one by one. Some of them are hilarious methods. A way to have Biryani every day because K.D. slurps up the marrow in such a delicious way that people order for the same Mutton and Chicken Biryani again and again. Kutty spots a way of earning from the shop owner, to bring K.D. there to eat. Even though Kutty, because of his temple upbringing, is himself a vegetarian. K.D. is taken to a dark road in the night's death to learn to ride a bike. That, too, was on his wish list. Then, the MGR act. Then, seeing a film shoot. Then, acting in a film.
All the while, they are being chased by a local man posing as a detective.
K.D. is an important film about the old wanting to have a life too and the young who can connect with them amazingly if they want to.
The writing is uniformly brilliant, and so is the staging of each sequence. The director Madhumita lends an endearing heft to every scene, playing it slowly till each scene's cadence is evolved. There are significantly fewer abrupt cuts. The actors are outstanding, and so she allows them enough centerstage. As an actor, Ramaswamy reminds you of Raj Kapoor in some ways, the way his hands move. The way his eyes react to every activity around him.
In a way, this film is all about eyes.
Naga Vishal is brilliant as the boy Kutty. He fancies himself as the elder in this relationship, scolding K.D. and calling him an imbecile right through the film. His eyes light up when he is playing a prank or when they are going somewhere new. There's a scene where he takes K.D. to meet his old flame from Valli's school days. She is now an older woman staying with her grandchild, many villages away. But they find out and go. K.D. sits moony-eyed, and Valli is next to Kutty. Kutty watches both of them and suddenly says, "I have to go out for a bit."
It is a very adult thing for an 8-year-old to do. But that's what Madhumita does successfully right through the film. The sound design and the cinematography is impressive, and rural Tamil Nadu is brilliantly captured.
An apt film. A film that has won an award at the British Asian Film Awards in 2019.
- Indraneel Majumdar