Synopsis: A blind chef gets his eyesight back, but the girl he had fallen in love with is missing. What has happened to her?
Review: Adhe Kangal takes some time to pick up, and for a while, it is content at being a triangular romance. The pacing and the rhythm seem off in these portions, and we are unsure where things are headed. But then, the film turns into an investigative thriller. And slowly, propped by Ghibran’s score, the director and the film start finding their feet.
The plot revolves around Varun (Kalaiyarasan), a visually challenged chef, into whose life walks Deepa (Sshivada), who is right out of the movie heroine handbook — good-looking, vulnerable and most importantly, feels it is her duty to help the poor. Varun’s friend Sadhana (Janani Iyer) has a soft spot for him and his parents decide to fix up a match between them. Meanwhile, Deepa asks Varun to help her family, which is in financial trouble, but before he can do that, he meets with an accident. Fortunately, he is safe, and not only that, he gets his vision back. However, Deepa is missing, and given that no one in Varun’s circle has seen, can he trace her whereabouts?
Varun’s investigation is initially frustrating and directionless (like most investigation), but once he and Panju, the constable whom he enlists to help him, get a break, it begins to resemble something of an interesting puzzle. And though we are able to guess the answer to the question of ‘what has really happened to Deepa’ much earlier, the cat-and-mouse game between the protagonist and the antagonist has the smarts that a film in this genre needs.
What’s most impressive about Adhe Kangal is how it treats its two female leads. They aren’t just romantic interests but have a larger role to play. Even the regular comic sidekick role is written as something integral to the plot, and Balasaravanan gives this role the right amount of seriousness and light-heartedness it deserves. But among the cast, it is clearly Sshivada, who is the standout. After Zero, this is another author-backed role for her, and the actress makes it her own. Her performance is also the reason why Kalaiyarasan feels a little underwhelming. He is a solid actor, but this isn’t his cup of tea.
As far as debut efforts go, Adhe Kangal lacks the dazzle of the recent Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru (in fact, this film is visually indistinct), but there is a quiet assuredness in the filmmaking, especially in the second half, that gives us hope for Rohin Venkatesan’s next outing.