Kamal Haasan’s ‘Kuruthipunal’ (River of Blood)

Successful remake movies inevitably raise the question – is the remake better than the original? The recent success of Kamal Haasan’s Papanasam raises the same debate vis-à-vis the original Drishyam starring Mohan Lal. Kuruthipunal didn’t face that debate – Govind Nihalani who directed the original hindi movie Droh Kaal accepted that the remake was better than the original.

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Kamal in Kuruthipunal – remake of Govind Nihalani’s Drohkaal                                                              Image Courtesy – whykol.com

Kamal donned multiple hats as usual – actor, producer, screenplay and dialogue writer. The life of our specialist commandos who take on the real threat of terrorists is depicted with realism sans false bravado and bombast. And the pressure and ‘breaking point’ is all a psychological game, beating the physical aspects of their jobs including pain and torture.

Aadhi Narayanan (Kamal) is a tough cop and a skilled interrogator who excels at playing mind games and getting the better of hardened terrorists. He forms a great team with Abbas (Arjun) as they take on the tough task to ensuring peace and destroying terrorist gangs. The action is real and naturalistic, the terrorist threat is potent as the opponents are organized and brutal in their methods.

Aadhi-Abbas duo still manage to plan for long-term success by sending two of the operatives under cover to penetrate into a key terrorist group. There are no emotions or morals in this game – they openly acknowledge that in order to rise in the ranks of the terrorist group, the operatives will have to adopt their brutal ways. It is a mixed success – one of the operatives is identified and he manages to commit suicide to avoid compromising the details of the secret mission. The second operative rises through the ranks and provides valuables information to counter the terror group’s activities.

In one of the assignments a driver (Nasser) is arrested – eventually he is unmasked and established to be the leader of the terrorist gang. Kamal interrogates him but meets with limited success – these face offs are intense but eventually disappoint. Over a period of time, the tables get turned and Nasser is able to take a psychological ascendance on Kamal who seems to be at the breaking point since the terrorist gang threatens to kill his family.

The compromise is ugly – Nasser escapes, Abbas is compromised and brutally killed and finally Kamal realizes that he needs to shake off Nasser’s hold on him as otherwise he is headed in the sad direction of his mentor Srinivasan (K Viswanath) who fell for the same bait and eventually committed suicide to avoid being arrested and disgraced. Kamal reaches the terrorist lair and has a violent face off with Nasser.

Nasser is interested in knowing about the mole in his gang – incidentally the mole has become No. 2 in the gang. Nasser realizes this and tries to attack Kamal. Kamal kills him and asks his operative to shoot him so that he takes control of the terrorist gang and unmasks more details about their other associates and plans. A gory end of an officer who mouths a great dialogue to Nasser in his initial face off, ‘Veeram Na enna theriyuma, Bayam illadha madhiri nadikkiradhu  (Do you know what courage means? Trying to pretend like you’re not scared)’.

P C Sreeram, the famous cinematographer, helmed the movie and the screenplay comes alive in his scenes that are naturalistic and relatable to real life. Mahesh Mahadevan has scored the music and it reflects the movie’s moods really well. Nasser has stood up as an apt counterpoise to Kamal and they have managed a long partnership over the years including movies like Michael Madana Kama Rajan, Thevar Magan, Virumaandi, Anbe Sivam and Uttama Villain. Kamal also pairs up with Gautami who has a pivotal cameo role, wherein she kills a terrorist and protects the family.

The movie has inspired realism in some of our movies though the overall commercial interests are kept in mind – Aamir Khan’s Sarfarosh and Suriya’s ‘Kaaka Kaaka’ reminded me of the movie in certain parts though both were popular commercial ventures.

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