The basic story of the film is good versus bad. Here the good is Samuel Fernandez aka Sam (Aravind Swamy) and bad is Berchmans (Arjun). Their relationship, to put it more simply, is like the Batman and Joker in the recently concluded Batman series. Their exchanges are always philosophical in nature and there is always a talk about morals in their words much like the dialogues in universe of Nolan adaptations. Only here the Nolan universe codes and values are replaced by a Christian universe codes and morals.
As the story progresses both are after our hero Thomas in whom they see their ideological victory. Both Sam and Berchmans are keen to change the fate of Thomas by showing him their values. Which side does Thomas choose to be on and what elements shape up his choices and his ultimate destiny form the overall story of the film.
New comers Gautham and Thulasi are alright. While Gautham has very limited expressions, Thulasi has very less screen time to really create an impact.
The real heroes of the film as far as acting is considered are Aravind Swamy and Arjun. Both give fantastic and consistent performance through out the film. Many moments are given for both the actors to shine and they make complete use of it.
Ponvannan in his short role too leaves an impact. Lakshmi Manchu on the other hand has an even small role but a very crucial one. She too gives good performance but her dubbing could have been a lot better. It doesn’t suit the character she plays.
Dubbed dialogues and lyrics are poor
The themes of the good versus the bad have been there from time immemorial and from time to time have been told using various sources. Here Christianity is the source for all the conversations, setting, dialogues and messages but as mentioned in the story the screenplay seems to be heavily inspired by the popular superhero film. It seems to be the cool urban up-gradation tool used by the director to narrate his material which otherwise could have easily turned into a gospel in a Church.
The director his best to keep things as engaging as possible but the cracks start appearing by the end of the first half itself. The second half then drags endlessly till about the climax which has been wonderfully shot in the storm. Unfortunately the director takes a long time to arrive to the point and as a result the interest in the actual proceedings is lost. The viewers feel the relief of the ending of the film.
Another bothering thing about the film is the change of views. The conversations go on with each side defending itself and suddenly without actually any strong or proper reason the bad one looses leaving the audience perplexed as to how this change has happened or how is he defeated. Could be a problem with dubbing but the clarity is missing.
Music by AR Rahman is good but the lyrics of the Telugu version are very poor to say the least. Cinematography is fantastic.
Mani Ratnamâ€™s films apart from its stories are also known for superb video songs. Kadali fails on this count too barring a song. Other songs seem to be rehashed versions of his old video songs.
Bottom-line: For a film spreading the message of new life Kadali sucks out your life at cinemas.