A man wins the hand of a girl after winning in jallikattu, but her relative, who had hopes of marrying her, tries to cause a permanent rift between the couple.
With Sethupathi and Rekka, Vijay Sethupathi showed that he can do mass hero films as well, and Karuppan has the actor playing a masala movie hero once again (he even gets a feet-first hero introduction scene and a well-shot bull-taming scene), but this time, in a rural set-up. And with his insouciant charm, he lights up this rural entertainer, which is an old-fashioned masala film this is formulaic but somewhat fun.
The actor plays the titular character, a happy-go-lucky villager who is a do-gooder at heart, even though he ruffles feathers with his ruffian-ish behaviour. Maayi (Pasupathy, solid as ever), a respected figure in the neighbouring village accepts a challenge to marry off his sister Anbu (Tanya, holding her ground against Vijay Sethupathi) to Karuppan, if he tames his bull. Karuppan does, but this doesn't go down well with Kathir (Bobby Simhaa, good), the brother of Maayi's wife, who had been hoping to marry the girl. So, he starts to plot against the couple, hoping to create a rift between them for ever...
Where Karuppan scores is how it caters to its target audience — the family crowd. There are the moments between Karuppan and Anbu that are sure to strike a chord among couples; then we have the brother-sister angle between Anbu and Maayi; there is also mother sentiment — Karuppan's mother (Renuka) is mentally challenged and he dotes on her. In fact, Panneer Selvam uses this to make the Karuppan-Anbu relationship stronger, as Anbu's attitude towards his mother plays a huge role in Karuppan loving his wife more. This ensures that when Kathir starts stirring the pot with his evil plans, we fear for these characters.
But the film hews too close to formula. Every beat in the script feels not just familiar but also predictable. Like when we get introduced to the character of Pandi (Sharath Lohitashwa), we immediately know that Kathir will try to use him to create a rift between Karuppan and Maayi. Also, apart from Karuppan, the other characters are more like placeholders. Even Kathir (who is introduced with a snake in hand to show his true character) is two-dimensional. This is why the film lacks punch despite having all the elements needed for a masala movie.
But the director keeps the momentum going forward and ensures that the scenes aren't boring. Even though Imman's songs are a let-down, the action scenes are shot well to make us ignore the lack of forceful drama on screen.