Synopsis: Anbarasu, a carefree son of a corrupt police constable, thwarts an encounter planned by Chandrasekar, an undercover cop. Anbu becomes an unwitting pawn in Chandrasekar's next attempt on the gangster's life but that operation, too, fails. Now, both the cop and the criminal are after Anbu.
Review: Kaaval begins with a voice-over reeling out the numbers of murders that have happened in the state and the cases that have not been unsolved so. Then, we are told that most of these killings were done by contract killers, who do them solely for money. And we are given the man who is responsible for these dirty jobs — Karuna, a gangster in a fishing hamlet, who has everyone from ministers to cops in his pocket and runs a business that spans drug peddling, intimidation, contract killing, et al out in the open.
But one man is plotting his downfall — a cop, an encounter specialist, to be specific. This is Chandrasekar (Samuthirakani), who is determined to end Karuna once and for all and goes undercover and observes the gangster's day-to-day activities. He gets the go-ahead to carry out an encounter but the plan goes kaput because Anbarasu aka Anbu (Vemal), the carefree son of a police constable (MS Bhaskar), who is on friendly terms with Karuna, informs the gangster of the operation. Chandrasekar's fellow cop is murdered and this only makes him all the more eager to kill Karuna. A turn of events result in Karuna beginning to suspect Anbu and now, the young man is hunted by both cop and criminal.
The problem with Kaaval is that it offers nothing new in terms of story and presentation. Almost every development feels been there done that. The story of an encounter specialist is something that Gautham Menon did with much finesse in Kaakha Kaakha, and this film hardly adds anything to it. Interestingly, the director ropes in Gautham to provide the voice-over in the opening scenes. The villain is the generic gangster that we often see in our films and so, he hardly comes across as a formidable foe. Then, there is the heroine character, who simply exists because there needs to be a love interest for the hero.
Then there are the twists which we can see a mile away. The tries to keep Chandrasekar's identity a mystery until the halfway mark but we know he is a cop in his very first scene. Similarly, we are shown a cop getting marriage and we realize instantly that he will be murdered a few scenes later. Such predictability pulls down the film every time something remotely interesting happens.
Thankfully, the editor seems to have realized this and makes the scenes zip through, never allowing us to pause for breath and ponder over the flaws. It also helps that in Samuthirakani, the film has someone who can carry it to the end, with a sincere performance that is very typical of the actor.
The decision to make the hero an unwitting pawn of sorts is interesting and Anbu isn't exactly a character whom we root for. He is a good-for-nothing, who is clearly influenced by the corrupt practices of his constable father, and uses the cop's son as a get-away-with-anything card. And he doesn't have a shred of remorse in taking the gangster's side even though he is well aware of his nefarious activities. And once Chandrasekar enters the picture, he sorts of recedes into the background, but Vemal plays this character, which has a few shades, too casually to get us interested in Anbu.