Two friends are mistaken to have helped a couple elope and held captive by the girl's family. There, one of them falls in love with the servant girl. When they finally depart, the girl, who develops feelings for the guy, goes looking for him. Are they destined to meet again?
When Aaron, the hero of Kayal is introduced, we hear in the background the song
Enge En Jeevane
. The song is playing on the radio, which Socrates, Aaron's friend is listening to. This song not only gives Prabu Solomon an opportunity to include the mandatory Ilaiyaraaja song, but also serves to tells us what the film is going to be about — two madly-in-love characters searching for each other. Later, when Aaron enters the palatial mansion where Kayal works, what do we hear? The very same song!
This kind of romanticism runs throughout Kayal and this is the film's strength and its weakness. Aaron and Socrates are not the typical youngsters we see today. They do not want to save money but save memories instead and so work six months and then, with the money they have earned, they travel the length and breadth of the country, eager for new experiences. We empathize with them even more when we are told why they are so. They are on their way to Kanyakumari when they get into a situation — they are held captive in a palatial mansion for helping a couple to elope. There, Aaron is attracted to the demure servant girl Kayal, and professes his love in front of everyone. But then, the girl who had eloped returns, and so, the family lets the two guys free. Meanwhile, Kayal starts developing feelings for Aaron and leaves for Kanyakumari in search of him.
The first half of
has some of the better aspects you find in a Prabu Solomon film. First, there are the picture postcard visuals (mostly involving hills and greenery). Then, we have the offhand humour like the one involving a crazy old man at the mansion, another at the police station, where a policeman starts echoing Aaron and Socrates' philosophy of life much to the bewilderment of his fellow cop and melodious songs. The acting, too, is solid and it is a relief seeing a heroine who can infuse emotions into her lines. It is amazing when you realize it is the same Ananthi who looked out of depth in
. Even the scenes have an organic quality with one thing leading to another, and so believable, in these portions.
However, the director's bad habits start creeping in midway into the film and things start getting implausible and heavy-handed. It is hard to believe that the elderly woman who raised Kayal lets her go all alone in search of a guy of whom she knows nothing. The scenes in Kanyakumari feel very filmy, especially when what we have seen till then seemed so natural. A cop advises Kayal to return home and suddenly slaps her just because the girl wants to continue her search. A group of college girls take pity on Kayal and decide to help her out but this is staged in an unconvincing manner. Aaron and Socrates somewhat recede into the background. We get an unnecessary folksy song. There are some baffling scenes as well. Aaron, who is returning to Kayal's place, and the girl who is on her way to Kanyakumari travel in the same lorry, even though their destinations are in opposite directions.
But, most importantly, the use of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which is the backdrop the director has chosen to tell this story, feels exploitative as the tragedy that followed hardly registers on screen. To his credit, the director stages the tsunami quite well and the visual effects do not come across as tacky. But in zooming on his leads, the director blurs the scale of the tragedy. In fact, for a while, Aaron even forgets Socrates, his childhood friend, and only searches for Kayal amidst the debris. And, Kayal, too, totally forgets about the girls who rushed out to the beach to help her. At this point, we lose our empathy for these characters and that is the film's biggest tragedy.