Kizhakku Vaasal is a rustic story which finds Karthik in a familiar carefree, enegetic sort of role as a singer and dancer in the village of the same name. There are two threads in the story, one involving the zaminder’s daughter (Kushboo) with whom he has a genial relationship which mistakenly turns to a marriage proposal (furiously rejected by the zaminder), and the second relates to Revathy’s character, a young orphan who was brought up by a rich man’s concubine and who does not want to follow in those footsteps. The second thread stood out the most to me (of course, I am biased, but it’s also because the former thread has been told to death in Tamil cinema).
I applaud the fact that Revathy’s character is shown to be a dignified and strong-willed woman despite her predicament, rather than as a helpless or pitiful victim which would have been all too predictable. The flashback which explains her origin, for the most part, resists the temptation to go overboard with sentiment. All in all, it’s a praiseworthy attempt. Another nice element is the friendship between Karthik and Chinni Jayanth’s character, who is an adult but who is a bit stunted mentally. The scene where Revathy asks why he has not eaten, and he replies that he couldn’t eat before Karthik, will surely move even the most hardened cynic in the audience.
Ilaiyaraja delivers some wonderful hits with the musical score. ”Pachamala Poovu” remains one of my favourite songs of all time, with a simple, charming picturization and lovely lyrics, as Karthik’s character sings Revathy’s to sleep. ”Vanthathey Kungumam” is the other classic, though the picturization and placement in the film feels a little out of place. However, Ilaiyaraja’s use of the raagam Mohanam to depict the metaphorical freeing of Revathy’s spirit was really a stroke of brilliance.
What keeps Kizhakku Vaasal from being as good as it could be is the usual hero-bashing-goons scenes and some typical histrionics elsewhere. However, when you reach the final shot of the characters walking along the path away from the camera, it’s hard not to feel good about the film.