Cast: Kamal Haasan as Madan, Rajnikanth as Rajni, ‘Cheapriya’, ‘Coconut’ Srinivasan and ‘Major-Blunder-Rajan’
Director: S.P. Muthuraman
This is a write-up on a not much reviewed multi-starrer. Aadu Puli Aattam is not the first movie that comes up in our mind, when we think of Kamal-Rajni starrers of late 70s. This is the aspect which made me sit and watch the movie (besides being a Kamal starrer) on Vijay TV, a week back. I don’t think the movie was commercially successful or critically acclaimed. It might have been an also-ran movie, as there were no big names involved, apart from the two superstars.
The director S.P. Muthuraman wasn’t really popular at that time. Nevertheless, it is not an avoidable one. I would say that APA is more watchable than Ninaithale Inikkum or Alauddinum Arpudha Vilakkum. The first 20 minutes are pretty interesting but the story takes some bizarre turns later and falters. Some parts of the movie are engaging.
Unlike the other films these two acted together, this one is neither a family drama nor a romantic movie. The story seems like it is tailor-made for MGR & Nambiar as there are quite a few stunts scenes, two-timing and some punch dialogues too.
Aadu Puli Aattam (translated in English, ‘The Goat and Tiger Game’) refers to an old chess-like board game played in Tamil Nadu using pebbles. The movie starts with Kamal and Rajini, close associates, playing this game in a bar. When the game is finished, the couple, along with their gang ransack the bar and loot the money.
In brief, this is the story of a young man who dreams of becoming a policeman, but decides to go against the police due to circumstances and heads a gang of thieves. When he comes to know that his associates are much worser than thieves, he joins the police and nabs the criminals.
There are some notable scenes. A prisoner called ‘Bhai’ who is to be hung soon has a blind son. After Bhai is executed, Kamal who does not want the kid to know the truth & tries to act as Bhai by mimicking his voice. Though not a great scene, it must have been new to Tamil cinema during those days. More recently, a Prabhudeva-Karthik movie was entirely based on this concept. Later Kamal tricking one of Rajni’s associates by ‘capturing’ Major turns out to be a nice scene. I especially liked Kamal’s expression when he comes back to Major and unties him.
The bike-car chase between Kamal and Major is also well-shot. Just note the scene when he is shot in his leg. The way he limps is just too natural. No other actor bothers to display the pain and feelings as much as this man. The Sardarji make-up and North Indian accent is a good attempt too. Similarly the climax stunt scene is a well made one featuring Kamal and Rajni in a long drawn fight on a roof top. It is a well picturised stunt scene with very few camera tricks, thanks to Kamal’s agility. He is extremely quick, energetic and dedicated. I could not spot a single shot in which he uses a double (’dupe’). But the same can not be said about Rajnikanth. This whole fight sequence was shot with Rajnikanth’s double and Kamal Haasan. Yes, even in close-up shots you can see Rajni’s double trying hard to cover his face with his palms.
In the second half of the movie, Kamal gets an opportunity to work for the Crime Branch. Kamal, as usual is at ease in these roles. In the investigation scenes I felt, he could have avoided starting all sentences with a ‘Well…’. [In fact all wannabe-Kamals appearing in mimicry shows, never fail to copy this.] From here on, Kamal’s role becomes more James Bond-like working for the police, two-timing Rajni’s associates and finding his hide-outs. In the end, Kamal pushes Rajni from the top of a building, Rajini falls on a bush and loses his eyesight. As expected, the villian mouths the most common dialogue used in a climax…”Naan thirundhitten” (I have turned a new leaf).
The movie has a good number of cliched scenes. The director follows the age-old practice of placing an odd-looking wig on the hero’s head in the flashback (to show him as an ‘innocent’ man!). The flashback scenes are pretty much avoidable (especially Kamal dreaming of his ex-lover, who chases a train in ’slow-motion’ is funny). Thankfully there are only two songs and there isn’t much romance. I guess the Bhai and his son were straight out of some drama troupe as their acting reminded me of early-80s Doordarshan plays (’naadagams‘).
Major Sunderrajan is asked to wear the khaki uniform yet another time. I can imagine the outrageous response he would have received from the audience when he mouthed his famous two-liner, “Naan kandippa seyyaren. I will certainly do it!”…;-) There are some good one-liners for Rajinikanth. Especially “Idhu Rajni style” is stylish, indeed. But the way he says ‘dost’ everytime he meets Kamal is funny. It sounds more like Sivaji Ganesan’s ‘Thambeeeee‘, ‘Ammaaaaa‘…:-). Thengai Sreenivasan gets introduced in a grand manner, as a pipe-smoking Brahmin CID with a double barrel gun. But his role is disappointing. This movie doesn’t have any comedy track, either.
Kamal Haasan is the heart of Aadu Puli Aattam. The entire story is about him — his early life, his lover, shattered dreams, gang of thugs, enlightenment and revenge. For most part of the film, he appears in the hippie-style, which was hugely popular in the late 70s. He looks dashing in the intro scene where he rides a bullet. This role is a cakewalk for this extremely skilled actor and he doesn’t get a chance to showcase his abundant talents in APA.
The scene in which he goes to Rajni’s den and gets a cold welcome is good. Rajni throws a garland on Kamal and calls him an ‘Aadu‘. In turn, Kamal turns back and throws the same garland on air which falls right on Rajni’s neck, and says, “Idhu nanbanukku poatta malai illa“, implying that he is the tiger and Rajini, the goat. Like this there are few promising sequences, but overall, the movie is just average. Music is disappointing (neither MSV not Illayaraja) but photography was pretty good, especially in the opening scene. By the way, this is a black & white movie.
When I watched it, I could relate it to several other films which came later. Kamal’s own Khaki Chattai, a much bigger success and a better entertainer, can be called a remake of APA. More recently, Kireedom and Pokkiri have some scenes resembling this movie.
Krish does a good job of letting us know about a not-so-familiar movie. We have more of ‘A’ since ‘B’ is pretty much done. Next week, we move onto ‘C’. Very few movies, but a couple of popular ones. Send in your entries!