Film: "Kumki"; Actors: Vikram Prabhu, Lakshmi Menon, Thambi Ramaiah and Asvin Raja; Director: Prabhu Solomon; Rating: ***1/2 - visually evocative.
After the critically acclaimed "Mynaa", filmmaker Prabhu Solomon returns with an equally uplifting film, in which an elephant plays the eponymous character. "Kumki" is the kind of film that reminds us yet again that we don't need hero-worshipping scripts anymore to draw audiences to the cinemas.
Set in the backdrop of forests of Kerala and Karnataka, Prabhu paints a simple love story that instantaneously strikes a chord with the audience.
The film takes us through the lives of the farmers in a village called Aadi Kadu, where a wild elephant called Komban, has been causing havoc for many years. From bringing down huts and destroying plantation, the elephant eventually goes to the extent of crushing few villagers. The villagers unanimously decide to hire a mahout and a Kumki elephant, which are trained to fend off wild elephants.
Cut to next scene, Bomman and his elephant come to offer their service and they're treated with utmost respect in return by the villagers. Meanwhile, Bomman falls in love with Alli, daughter of the village chief. Over the course of the events, the lives of Bomman, Alli and the elephant are changed forever. What really happens in their lives, forms the rest of the story.
Prabhu interconnects two stories together to form an arching bigger story that never in its running time, deviates from its destined path. It might have taken some great deal of time to arrive at the conclusion, but never did it deviate. The crux of the film is about how a trained elephant is called upon to save the villagers from wild elephants, while the two other sub-plots are that of the relationship between Bomman, his elephant and Alli.
Though the film progresses at average pace, but thanks to an engaging and highly entertaining cast, the audience are kept hooked to their seats. Debutant Vikram Prabhu as the lovestruck mahout is brilliant and bereft of any criticism. Lakshmi, after her satisfying performance in "Sundarapandian", steals the limelight with her innocent character.
Unlike other Tamil films, there are no separate comedy tracks here. Thambi Ramaiah and Asvin, along with Vikram, bring the house down with hilarious one-liners. The relationship between Thambi and Vikram may appear wafer thin, as most of the time Vikram is seen verbally abusing his uncle, but it's not until the climax that we get to understand the depth of their relationship.
The locations are out of this world and I don't remember seeing anything as visually engrossing in the recent past. Be it the mountains in the background or the greenery spread across the village or the dense forests, everything in the film won't go unnoticed.
In a long time, I felt the music in a film was very apt and the songs were suitably placed. Immam's music is highly melodious and works beautifully in the favour of the film. This may very well be his best work to date.
"Kumki" may not be the year's best film, but definitely can't be looked down upon.