Kennedy Club movie cast: Sasikumar, Bharathiraja, Meenakshi
Kennedy Club movie director: Susienthiran
Kennedy Club movie rating: One and a half stars
Tamil cinema’s fascination for sports dramas continues with Kennedy Club, a yet another generic and predictable sports film. Half way through Kennedy Club, I mumbled to myself, “Is Susienthiran the same guy who directed Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu, Azhagarsamiyin Kudhirai or Aadhalal Kaadhal Seiveer?” I’d suggest the director to watch Aadukalam, Chennai 28 (of course, part 1) or Irudhi Suttru – if he hasn’t already – to have a better understanding of how a good sports film is made.
A few minutes into Kennedy Club, we are told why seven women Kabaddi players are into the sport. Besides passion, they pursue Kabaddi to support their families. They not only dream of making it to the national level, but also eye the government jobs. The girls train under Savadamuthu (Bharathiraja), an ex-serviceman. The director in Bharathiraja keeps coming now and then, mind you. He’s 70 plus, yet, jumps like a teenager, when his girls break the bones of some localites, while playing Kabbadi. Those scenes resemble straight out of a Vijayakanth film. You wonder if Savadamuthu taught them Kabbadi or Karate.
Kennedy Club is Susienthiran’s Chak De India! or Dangal. Barring a few neatly-choreographed Kabaddi scenes, it is impossible to root for specific characters – not even Muruganandam (Sasikumar) or a fine director like Bharathiraja. I liked the free-flowing visuals of the game, though. The casting is perfect. Kabaddi-playing girls look authentic like sportswomen.
I get the fact that half the sports are malnourished in the country, except cricket, which is celebrated the most. But the focus of Kennedy Club isn’t that. It discusses the north-south divide, inhouse malpractices, match-fixing, differences of opinion between the coaches, and several other cliches.
Kennedy Club highlights women’s empowerment. At the same time, tells, if a woman chops her hair, she becomes less-desirable for marriage. It follows a typical template of a sports film: discovers the talent, humiliates some loss, comments on a bunch of social issues and ends with a ‘message’. Whereas filmmaking is not that. That’s not how you tell a story.
Kennedy Club could have been a better film if Susienthiran had not commercialised it with masala elements. Soori, Susienthiran’s favourite, appears in a cameo. We get the usual ‘parotta comedy’ reference. Susienthiran thinks it’s still funny. But I didn’t laugh. Oh, the others, also didn’t. The film makes fun of a guy who genuinely wants to see his woman play the match. He doesn’t mind her going to Delhi, the same day they got married. Kennedy Club makes the guy a “joker”, instead.
A Central Minister attends an important Kabaddi match as the chief guest. After the game, this old coach stops him, complains about a corrupt administrator and laments how he’s harassed his team, demanding for money. I have problems with these kinds of cinematic approaches. For sure, you know this can’t happen in real life. All right, it is a “story”. Still, you can narrate it in a believable way. Kennedy Club lacks an effective storytelling. Also, the premise is dull and the tone is patronising. But I’m thankful that the film was devoid of sexual assault angle that repeatedly finds a place in most sports dramas including the latest, Dear Comrade.
I think Susienthiran is distracted a bit, displaying his acting skills. Maybe, it’s time for him to focus completely on filmmaking? I don’t know.
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