Film: Kaadan (Tamil)/ Haathi Mera Saathi(Hindi)
Director: Prabu Solomon
Cast: Rana Daggubati, Vishnu Vishal, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Zoya Hussain, Unnikrishnan (the elephant), Anant Mahadevan and others
Music: Shantanu Moitra
Cinematography: A R Ashok Kumar
Rating: 3.5 stars
Director Prabhu Solomon, who is known for making emotional entertainers that tug at your heart strings, comes up with yet another wonderful script in Kaadan that is inspired by real-life incidents.
The film is about an environmental activist (Rana Daggubatti), who chooses to stay in the forests that are home to a number of animals including a herd of elephants.
The fact that the forest lands have been donated by his wealthy and kind hearted father to the government, under the condition that these lands are maintained as reserve forests for the well being of the animals makes him in a way feel responsible for their safety.
Having grown in the forests from a young age, he has a profound understanding of how forests and the elephants in them help Mother Nature maintain balance. He in fact explains that forests are created by elephants that travel around 50 to 60 kilometres a day.As the digestion capacity of elephants is only 50 per cent, the seeds that they consume, are sown in the form of droppings and grow up to become trees.
Things are peaceful until the time, a corporate, backed by the Forest Minister (Ananth Mahadevan), decides to encroach upon these forest lands to build a township.
They cut century old trees, violating rules without a care in the world, and then look to raise a compound wall all around the township. The wall blocks elephants from taking their tradional migratory routes, causing them immense distress. How this environmental activist fights the corporate and brings the wall down to save the elephants is what the film is all about.
The story is inspired by several real life incidents. For instance, the film’s story is inspired by the life of Jadhav Molai Payeng, who is better known as the Forest man of India. Payeng, who has met Dr A P J Abdul Kalam several times and has moved closely with him, created a forest single handedly by planting trees over a whopping 1,350 acres.
The forest that he single-handedly created is called the Molai forest and is so dense now that a herd of 100 elephants regularly visits this forest and stays there for six months a year. They have given birth to 10 calves. Director Prabhu Solomon seems to have been inspired by this man’s story and created this film.
That apart, there was also another case in which the Supreme Court recently ordered the demolition of a wall raised by a corporate to build a refinery in the reserved forest lands of Assam. The wall, which was raised thus, had been blocking elephants from taking their traditional migratory routes, causing them immense distress. Several elephants died in this tragedy.
Kaadan seems to have drawn inspiration from this incident as well.
The film is engaging and draws your attention to some really pressing problems that are being carelessly handled in the country.It looks to ring the alarm bells on how we as a society are failing to protect nature and animals and the heavy price we will have to pay if we alter the balance.
Rana Daggubatti does a fantastic job as the environmental activist, who looks to be the spokesperson for the elephants. It is without a demanding role and Rana seems to have done justice to the film, from start to finish.
Vishnu Vishal, who plays an irresponsible mahout with selfish interests in the film, comes up with yet another impressive performance. In fact, the actor’s performance is so realistic that you tend to forget that he is only an actor portraying a character. You hate the character so much for putting his elephant in harm’s way, just to win the love of a woman, that you feel like he is the real villain.
Just when you think that he will return in the second half, a reformed man, you are in for disappointment.
As a viewer, my guess is that Vishnu Vishal’s portions have been unfairly chopped off to keep the film lean and trim. But by doing so, it makes his character totally unnecessary and irrelevant to the story.
Shriya Pilgaonkar and Zoya Hussain too come up with commendable performances. One plays a journalist with a conscience and the other plays a naxal looking for justice.
Anant Mahadevan as always plays the cool villain with selfish interests.
Shantanu Moitra’s music is outstanding and enhances the value of the film by a big margin. A R Ashok Kumar’s visuals capture the beauty of the forests and present a treat to your eyes.
Kaadan’s message is a very important one and one that needs to be emphasised in this day and age. Kudos to director Prabhu Solomon and Eros International for even attempting to narrate such a significant and bold story.
My recommendation is that you can definitely go and watch this film with your entire family.