In what could’ve been a scene originally written for a star hero, Sivakarthikeyan storms into a police station (in slow motion) as inspector Mathimaran and threatens some thugs who’re creating a nuisance. He delivers a lengthy sermon about the sections under which he can book them. And just when you start to realise the seriousness of the scene, you’re in for a twist. Mathimaran is not an inspector, but just a constable, who was daydreaming. In “Kaaki Sattai”, Siva, who has mostly featured in a string of successful comedies, takes his first baby step towards becoming a mass hero, sans conviction.
You can sense the lack of confidence and seriousness right from the first scene. Initially, Siva is unsure if he’s cut out to be an action hero, which explains why the opening scene turns out to be a mockery of his own screen image. As the film progresses, Siva does transform into the kind of hero who treats a bullet shot like a needle prick, but you can still feel that he treads the chosen path carefully.
For instance, Siva is aware of the fact that an action hero is required to fight, which he does, but restricts himself to just one scene. Also, he dons khaki in just a few scenes. Because more the number of scenes in which a hero is seen in police khaki, more action is expected, which Siva duly avoids by reminding himself he’s just taking baby steps towards stardom. And by doing so, he looks like he’s been projected in a larger-than-life role he doesn’t quite fit despite the earnest performance.
“Kaaki Sattai” is very much a Sivakarthikeyan film featuring all the elements — comedy, romance and drama — his fans usually look forward to in his films. The action angle merely presents the actor in a new dimension, designed to rebrand his onscreen image as a mass hero. But for those who’ve always considered Siva to be a great entertainer, the good news is he entertains and that’s what really matters. He still delivers lines with ease and shines in comedy, which has always remained his forte and it will continue to be for a long time. Agreed he looks a little out-of-place in the songs and is not great at dancing, but does any of this really matter when you’ve decided to take stardom head on.
Having closely worked with Siva in “Ethir Neechal” earlier, director Durai Senthil Kumar extracts the best from the actor. Even with a predictable story about organ donation, Durai ensures a spotlight on poor migrant workers from north India in Chennai, and how they’re robbed of their livelihood, and in this case, of their organs. At least somebody finally cares about this migrant population. By now it’s clear that Siva is in no mood to discard his comedy tag. And with his brief stint with action in this outing, he might even become the next action-comedy star of Tamil cinema.
When you see “Kaaki Sattai” a film where a hardcore entertainer dons khaki for the first time, I think it works very well.