Kaithi (2019 film)

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Kaithi
Kaithi 2019 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLokesh Kanagaraj
Written byLokesh Kanagaraj
Pon Parthiban
Produced byS. R. Prakashbabu
S. R. Prabhu
Thiruppur Vivek
StarringKarthi
CinematographySathyan Sooryan
Edited byPhilomin Raj
Music bySam C. S.
Production
companies
Release date
  • 25 October 2019 (2019-10-25)
Running time
146 minutes[1]
CountryIndia
LanguageTamil
Budget25 crore
Box officeest. 105 crore[2]

Kaithi (transl. Prisoner) is a 2019 Indian Tamil-language action thriller film[3] written and directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj. It is produced by S. R. Prakashbabu and S. R. Prabhu under Dream Warrior Pictures and co-produced by Tiruppur Vivek under Vivekananda Pictures. It stars Karthi in the lead role, along with Narain, Arjun Das, Harish Uthaman, George Maryan and Dheena in pivotal roles. In the film, a recently released prisoner races against time to drive poisoned cops to a hospital in exchange for meeting his daughter, while evading criminals chasing him.

Lokesh initially worked on two scripts after the success of Maanagaram (2017), which he had scrapped working on it, due to the issues regarding the extensive research and casting process, until he came up with a news article about an ex-prisoner's life. He initially wanted Mansoor Ali Khan to play the lead role, but during the writing process, Karthi was demanded to play the lead, with the scale of the budget being increased further. Principal photography began in December 2018, and was completed by August 2019. The film was entirely shot at night, without any day sequences taking place during the shoot. It is a song-less film, with the background score being composed by Sam C. S. The cinematography and editing were handled by Sathyan Sooryan and Philomin Raj respectively.

Kaithi was released on 25 October 2019, ahead of the Diwali festival. It opened to critical acclaim from critics and audience praising the direction, screenplay, writing, BGM, cinematography, action sequences and cast performances (particularly those of Karthi, Narain, Monica and Das) .[4] Following the positive reception, the film became a box-office success, grossing over 110 crore. The film was further selected for official screening at the International Indian Film Festival Toronto (IIFFT) in August 2020, and had won two Ananda Vikatan, three Norway Tamil Film Festival, SIIMA and four Zee Cine Awards respectively. The story is followed up in Vikram (2022) also directed by Lokesh, with both the films forming a part of the planned Lokesh Cinematic Universe (LCU), along with a sequel titled Kaithi 2 is under development.

Plot[edit]

At an orphanage, 10-year-old Amudha is told by the caretakers that someone important is going to meet her in the next day at 10:00 am; She waits anxiously, wondering who it may be. Meanwhile, a smuggling van carrying a ton of cocaine from an interstate group of smugglers are seized by Inspector Bejoy and his team. The contraband was smuggled by a huge gang headed by Adaikalam, the most wanted smuggler in Tamil Nadu, whose identity remains unknown. Adaikalam's brother Anbu plans to capture the five police officials, kill them, and retrieve the contraband. According to Anbu's plan, all the police officials in the city get unconscious after consuming poisoned drinks at a higher official's retirement party. Bejoy, who avoided the drink as he was under medication, tries to save the lives of all the unconscious officials without letting the media or anyone else finding out.

Bejoy convinces Dilli, an ex-prisoner who happened to be there with him as he was detained for looking suspicious (and being the only one who can drive a lorry), to help him save the officers' lives by threatening him that he would not let him meet his daughter Amudha the next morning, with the help of a lorry borrowed from Kamatchi, a caterer present at the party. As Kamatchi has navigations of routes and roads, Dilli tells him to come with them as well. Dilli, Bejoy, and Kamatchi together load the unconscious officials into the lorry and try their best to get them to the hospital as soon as possible without any casualties. As Anbu announces a huge sum of money as the reward for catching the policemen, gangsters from Anbu's gangs try to hunt down Bejoy and his team. They are guided by Paalpandi, a corrupt cop (recruited by Stephen Raj, Zonal Head of Narcotics Division) who pretends to be unconscious while giving information about the location of the lorry to the gangs.

Meanwhile, at the commissioner's office, the drugs are hidden along with Adaikalam's men who are in custody. As Anbu and his gang would take the drugs and free Adaikalam's men, Bejoy orders constable Napoleon and a group of college students detained due to drunk driving, to close all the possible exits and to try and keep the gangsters outside the commissioner's office at the cost of their own lives while they wait for higher officials. Dilli, Bejoy, and Kamatchi come across the various gangs, but Dilli takes care of them brutally. Back at the building, Napoleon is instructed by Bejoy to negotiate a deal with the captured men of Adaikalam. Napoleon makes one of the men call Anbu and agrees to release the prisoners in exchange for his and the student's safety. Surprisingly, Anbu agrees. However, Bejoy realises that Adaikalam himself is captured unknowingly with his men and instructs Napoleon to cancel the deal.

Adaikalam tries to guide Anbu into the commissioner's office, but the students purposely blast loud music to keep him from hearing Adaikalam. Anbu manages to climb up to the roof and break into the building, but he is subdued by the students and tied up. Dilli and Kamatchi manage to transfer the unconscious officers to a school bus from the hospital so that they can continue to the commissioner's office. However, they come across another huge and armed gang under leadership of Tips who were ordered by Anbu himself to kill both Dilli and Bejoy. They beat up Bejoy, and Paalpandi brutally stabs Dilli but Dilli manages to kill Paalpandi and all the gangsters including Tips, while rescuing Bejoy and proceeding to the building. Anbu's gang is outside the building and Ram manages to catch a student, and under the order of Anbu, kills him. Infuriated, Napoleon bludgeons and renders Anbu unconscious with a fire extinguisher, to which Adaikalam swears he will kill all of them.

Dilli, Bejoy, and Kamatchi make it to the building. Dilli alone enters the building through a secret passage and sends the students through the passage, while he and Napoleon go to burn up the cocaine. The duo reaches the storage room, but to their surprise, they also find a confiscated M134 Minigun. Instead of just burning the drugs, Napoleon decides to eliminate all the syndicate members. They reach the ground floor as the goons break-in. Dilli uses the gun to kill Ram and all of Anbu's gang outside the building. All the policemen are resuscitated, and Bejoy finds the moles in his department. Stephen Raj is incriminated and all injured are moved to the Government Hospital overnight. Bejoy thanks Dilli and promises him that he will soon arrange a good life for him and his daughter. Nalini, who is Dilli's probation officer, brings Amudha to the spot, and they meet with tears of joy.

In prison, one of the captured men tells Adaikalam that Dilli, who had no connection with the gangs, was the prime reason for all of their losses, to which Adaikalam, who already knows Dilli, replies that he does have a connection. The next day, Dilli, Amudha, and Kamatchi leave for Dilli's village.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Origin[edit]

After the success of Maanagaram (2017), director Lokesh Kanagaraj had rejected several offers from various production houses as he did not want to "succumb to the pressure of staying relevant in the industry by signing back-to-back projects".[5] Nonetheless, since he was already assigned to direct a project for the producers of Maanagaram, S. R. Prakash Babu and S. R. Prabhu under the company Dream Warrior Pictures, he began research to develop a script, but the project failed to materialise as he needed more time for research works. Lokesh began developing another script, but this was also dropped.[5] He came upon a news article about an ex-prisoner that instantly caught its attention and decided to work on the script.[6] He examined his previous film, as the story is set in a span of 48 hours, and developed the script, which takes place on a single night, with the characters, story and setting revolving in the short time-span, but in a different genre – action.[7] Eventually, he worked on the final draft that consisted of 45 pages and sent it to Prabhu's office, which Lokesh felt that "given the size of the script, he was perplexed when I handed it over to him".[5] The film did not have a female lead or songs in the film,[8] which is considered to be something new for Tamil cinema as Lokesh himself insisted that it "wasn't such a barrier to not have a heroine or a song in a commercial film".[9] Vivekananda Pictures, an established film production company in 1980s, also co-produced and distributed this project with Tiruppur Vivek as the producer, thereby marking its return to film production after two decades.[10]

Development[edit]

"In the beginning, when I was writing for Mansoor Ali Khan, the script had that wacky element you'd associate with him. But when Karthi sir came onboard, I wanted to change the character arc to include some of the things we were familiar with, even though he was fine with the original characterisation. So I took another 20 days, rewrote his character without removing anything that excited him during the narration. He liked the new arc and how he behaves. We didn't change any major scenes or plot lines for it, though."

 – Lokesh Kanagaraj, in an interview with critic Baradwaj Rangan[9]

Lokesh stated that the script was initially written with Mansoor Ali Khan in mind, but as the process of writing went forth, the stature of the lead character went bigger, and demanded a popular actor to play the lead role, thereby increasing the scale of the film.[9][11] Prabhu later narrated the one-liner of the story to Karthi, during the shooting of his film Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru, which he had interested.[12] After Lokesh's narration of the script, he immediately agreed to work on the film.[13][14] In an interview with Srivatsan S of The Hindu, he stated that since the film "doesn't have songs or a heroine, people assumed it would be under two hours. See, that's how they are conditioned. The entire movie takes place in a single night but it needed to be told in that stipulated duration".[5]

Lokesh wanted to expand the film after Karthi's inclusion, and as a result, writer Pon Parthiban was hired to pen down the additional screenplay and dialogues for the film, as per Karthi's insistence, as he appreciated his work in Kaatrin Mozhi (2018).[15][16] The film was launched on 12 December 2018, with the announcement of the technical crew – Sam C. S. as the composer, Sathyan Sooryan as the cinematographer, Philomin Raj as the editor, who previously worked in Lokesh's Maanagaram, and the action choreographer duo Anbariv – being included in the film.[17] In March 2019, the first look of the film was released, with the film's title also being revealed as Kaithi (transl. Prisoner).[18][19][20]

Characters[edit]

"Lokesh sir called me for the audition and asked me to perform a scene from the film, which didn't make the final cut. Once I finished, he said I'd be playing Anbu and that I would have to lead a gang of 100 members. I got [intimidated] on hearing this. I had zero confidence when I stepped into the project, but the team was encouraging and the faith Lokesh had on me made me give my best."

 – Arjun Das, in an interview with The New Indian Express.[21]

Karthi plays the role of Dilli, an ex-convict, whose character was "physically and emotionally demanding". He stated that "It might be something I've not done before, something I can convert into a challenge for myself, or a film I'd like to watch as an audience [...] And, during that climax scene, we were all in that zone where we were pitch-perfect, where we were giving our very best. We actually felt like a family. As an actor, that's such a wonderful space to be in. It's almost addictive."[22]

Lokesh stated that the film did not have backstories for the characters, but there is a connection established between them and the audience. He further stated this an interview with The Indian Express, saying "I pay attention to even the trivial characters who contribute to a film. Starting from Narain, Dheena to Hareesh Peradi and Harish Uttaman—everyone's character was important. They were roped in because of their unique voice and dialogue delivery."[23]

Narain played the role of Inspector Bejoy, and was cast after Karthi's persistence to have him in that particular role. He stated that his role in the film is "interesting" and similar to the role he played in Anjathe (2008).[24][25] George Maryan's character, the constable Napoleon, was considered by Lokesh to be "one of the most honest roles" he had written to that point.[23] Arjun Das was chosen to play the main antagonist Anbu since Lokesh felt he had the powerful voice needed for the character.[21]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on 13 December 2018, the day after the film was launched.[26] The first schedule of the film began in Chennai during mid-December and was completed in less than 15 days.[27] The team began the second schedule in Tenkasi on 4 January 2019.[28][27] Major portions of the film were also shot in the surroundings of Tirunelveli.[29] As the storyline takes place in a single night in a short span of time, Lokesh made use of shooting the film in night time and did not feature any day time sequences, except for the film's climax. It was to provide authenticity to the story and the setting.[30]

Narain faced difficulties while filming some stunt scenes. He claimed that due to one hand being in a sling, running down a steep slope during a scene was "dangerous, and took every ounce of concentration, as I couldn't balance myself properly while running downhill. As it was my first time doing stunts with a sling, it took a lot of skill and judgement to tackle the kicks, fisticuffs and falls in the chase and fight sequences".[31] During another scene, Narain was told to "run out of a verandah, past a swimming pool, and keep running, halting only at a designated spot at a distance". He recalled, "But as I ran past the pool, I tripped on a slippery patch of water on the concrete. With one hand in a sling, I couldn't balance myself to stop the fall and fell down flat, my shoulder and chest taking the brunt of the fall [...] I felt I'd had a narrow escape, since it was hard concrete around the pool", but was left with shoulder pain for four months.[31]

Karthi practised to drive a lorry in one of the sequences. Since he had not driven a lorry before, he felt it was "quite challenging".[32] Lokesh explained about few sequences, particularly the climax scenes, as he stated that "Cinema is all about making the audience believe it is real. So, I didn't mind those couple of larger-than-life fights, towards the climax portions. Every fight had a backstory to it, and wasn't away from the premise. I only wanted my characters to behave and sound authentic."[23] Principal photography wrapped on 9 May 2019.[33] While many sources claimed that the film was shot within 62 days, Lokesh and Karthi themselves stated that they took about 36–45 days for shooting the film.[23][32]

Themes and influences[edit]

Commentators have noted the film's similarities to Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and Con Air (1997).[34][35][36] However, Lokesh in Srivatsan's interview to The Hindu, stated that Die Hard (1988) and Virumaandi (2004), served as additional references for Kaithi,[5] and had also credited them in the film.[37] The character Dilli and his looks were also modelled from the titular character played by Kamal Haasan in Virumaandi.[38] Pon Parthiban also admitted in an interview, further stating that audience need to compare the scenes where both characters talk about their wives, and you can sense the spiritual connection they share, whereas Parthiban replied that "The dialogue in Virumaandi is even more beautiful".[15]

The setting of where the entire story takes place in a night, was also referenced from the filmography of directors Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. Lokesh believed that "movies shot in the dark are underrated and offer so much scope in terms of lighting". He took the hostage scene in Die Hard as an example, where the "darkness made it very atmospheric" and concluded that "In a way, this film was a reverse of that situation, where the bad guys are locked inside a police station that is under siege".[39] For the making of the pre-climax action sequence choreographed by the duo Anbariv, where Karthi had to perform risky stunts on a moving lorry. He cited the stunt sequences of Naan Mahaan Alla (2010) as the benchmark for it.[23]

Music[edit]

The original score is composed by Sam C. S. Despite not having any songs in the film, four tracks with vocals have been included in the background score, with a song titled "Neel Iravil" was featured in the film's teaser. Sam stated that "In Kaithi, we didn't have any routine songs so I had to put in all my efforts in trying to narrate a story through the music as well. We decided to have different themes for different junctures and it worked well."[40] In an interview to The Hindu, Sam recalled that Lokesh had hinted musical references from American films, and wanted to incorporate in the film score. He cited The Dark Knight (2008) as an example for one of the themes he had composed.[41]

The score which consisted of a "metal clanging sound" played in the teaser is one of the themes, that was hinted to Dilli's past life during the prison, which will be used as the main theme in the sequel.[41] The original soundtrack which features 17 tracks were released, nearly a month after the film's release, on 22 November 2019. The vocals were written and performed by Sam and Sharanya Gopinath, with the latter rapping a few versions in English.[42] The score received positive response from critics, with Sify calling Sam as "another silent hero of the film"[43] and Kaushik Rajaraman, writing for DT Next, stated that Sam's background score for the film "on a par with his theme music in Vikram Vedha".[44]

Track listing
No.TitleLength
1."Kill and Destroy" (Lyrics and English rap versions performed by Sharanya Gopinath)3:19
2."Dilli's Swag"0:50
3."Grief of Dilli"3:44
4."Rise of Dilli"1:19
5."Nepolean Theme"2:25
6."Nee Eppo Varuva Appa"1:14
7."The Hot Biriyani" (Vocals performed by Sam C. S.)1:50
8."The Battle of Cop and Killer"1:30
9."Kaithi Main Theme"0:28
10."Beginning of the War"2:11
11."The Phase of Deathcall"0:34
12."Eternal Love of Father" (Vocals performed by Sam C. S.)3:14
13."Arrival of the Ruffian"0:48
14."Neel Iravil" (Vocals and lyrics performed by Sam C. S.)1:21
15."The Emotion Hustler"0:42
16."The Maze"0:58
17."Night is Dark" (Vocals performed by Sam C. S, with English rap versions done by Sharanya Gopinath)1:53
Total length:28:18

Release[edit]

Kaithi was initially scheduled to release during mid-July 2019,[10] but post-production delays meant that the film's release being pushed to 27 September 2019.[45][46] The release was further postponed to October 2019, before eventually finalising the release during Diwali (27 October 2019).[47] The release eventually coincided with the Vijay-starrer Bigil (2019).[48][49] A week before the scheduled release, the makers announced the release date as 25 October 2019, ahead of the Diwali festival.[50][51] The film was cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in mid-October.[52][53]

Prior to the scheduled release, the Tamil Nadu government denied permission to conduct early morning shows for the film and Bigil in concern of the increased ticket rates being levied by the exhibitors.[54][55] Kaithi was released in more than 250 screens across Tamil Nadu, despite competition from Bigil.[56] It was also showcased in 1400 screens worldwide, with the film releasing over 330 screens in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; 75 screens in Kerala, 100 screens across Karnataka, 125 screens across other parts of India, and 400 screens in the overseas centres.[57] Due to the positive reception for the film, the number of shows has been increased from 350 screens in Tamil Nadu during its second week,[58] and also reported an increase in the number of shows across Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and other overseas markets.[59]

"I see lot of genuine concerns over the 30-day window for films in OTT while running successfully in BO. Theatrical audience will reduce eventually if we continue this trend!? Yes! But, piracy & less terms from third week can be compensated for producers only through this!"

 – S. R. Prabhu, on the film's early digital premiere.[60]

Following its successful run, the digital streaming service Hotstar premiered the film on 25 November 2019, a month after its release date.[61] It eventually received criticism from the exhibitors and distributors as the early digital premiere might lead to reducing number of footfalls in theatres.[62] While producer S. R. Prabhu, attributed that the threat of piracy might be the reason for the 30-day window between theatrical and streaming run, many theatre owners opposed this.[60] Major multiplex chains such as PVR, INOX and AGS, stopped its screening, soon after the digital premiere of the film.[63] Irrespective of these factors, the film completed 50-day theatrical run on 13 December 2019.[64]

The satellite rights were brought by Star Vijay. Kaithi was selected for screening at the International Indian Film Festival in Toronto (IIFFT), which was held on 9–15 August 2020.[65] The film was later dubbed and released in Hindi under the same title on 25 October 2020, through the YouTube channel of Goldmines Telefilms.[66] In November 2021, the producers of the film confirmed the theatrical release in Japan, after one of the Japanese distributors piqued interest in showcasing the film in the country.[67] With an initial agreement being signed, the producers announced that the film will be titled as Kaithi Dilli for its release in Japan, and will be screened from 19 November 2021.[68][69] The film was intended to be released in Russia on 10 March 2022, with a Russian language dub,[70][71] but eventually released in over 121 theatres at 297 cities in Russia on 19 May 2022.[72][73]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

In the opening day of its release, the film collected 3.5 crore (US$440,000) on first day, despite competing with Bigil.[74][57] The film collected 4 million (US$50,000) from the Chennai city box-office on its first day.[74] The film collected around 2.8 crore (US$350,000) on second day and about 4.7 crore (US$590,000) on third day, adding its estimated collection to 11 crore (US$1.4 million) on the first 3-day weekend, with 10.7 million (US$130,000) from Chennai alone.[75][76] At the end of the first week, the film collected about 250 million (US$3.1 million) at the box-office.[77][78] International Business Times published that the film had collected 700 million (US$8.8 million) worldwide in the first 10 days, with 350 million (US$4.4 million) from Tamil Nadu, 5.5 crore (US$690,000) in Kerala, close to 10 crore (US$1.3 million) in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and over 7 crore (US$880,000) in Karnataka.[77] The film further collected 13 crore (US$1.6 million) from overseas markets.[77]

Due to the factors of increased screenings, in second week, boosting the film's collections, the film earned 83.4 crore (US$13 million) worldwide as of 12 days.[79] On 12 November 2019, the makers officially announced that the film had collected 100 crore (US$15.59 million) worldwide,[80] thereby becoming Karthi's first film to cross the 100-crore mark.[81] The film earned 565 million (US$7.1 million) from Tamil Nadu, 151 million (US$1.9 million) from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, 62.0 million (US$780,000) from Kerala, 74.3 million (US$930,000) from Karnataka and 18.7 million (US$230,000) from rest of the country, with its total collection being 1.44 billion (US$18 million) from India and 740 million (US$9.3 million) from overseas theatres. The film's final collection stands at 1.05 billion (US$13 million), with a net collection of 745 million (US$9.3 million).[81][2]

Critical response[edit]

Kaithi received critical acclaim from critics, who praised the cast's performances (particularly Karthi, Narain, Maryan, Monica and Das), action sequences, cinematography, direction, writing and exclusion of songs and other factors in mainstream Tamil cinema. Owing to its critical response, it was featured in many year-end lists as one of the best Tamil films of 2019 by several publications such as The Indian Express,[82] Film Companion South,[83] Hindustan Times,[84] Sify,[85] Firstpost[86] and India Today.[87]

Calling it as a "tense and impressively shot action thriller", M. Suganth gave 4.5 stars (out of 5) in the review for The Times of India, and stated "Lokesh Kanagaraj gives us a pure genre film minus the frills, like songs and romance, that we are used to in Tamil cinema". Though he concerned about "the film which feels overlong for its genre, as a couple of action blocks getting over-indulgent" but concluded "when it is action that we have signed up for, we cannot complain much about that".[88] Janani K of India Today gave four out of five stars stating, "Kaithi is a film that showcases filmmaking at its best" and praised Karthi's performance as "terrific and natural that one could literally picture a prisoner going through a tough time".[89] Sreedhar Pillai of Firstpost gave four-and-a-half out of five stars rating to the film saying "Kaithi is a well made film that takes the road less travelled and provides enough thrills". He further added that "Karthi's raw and intense performance, the film's taut screenplay and excellent technicality, along with awesome action scenes, makes Kaithi an edge-of-the seat thriller".[90]

News18-based critic Gauthaman Bhaskaran gave three out of five stars stating "Karthi's stunning performance makes it an engaging watch".[91] Manoj Kumar R. of The Indian Express gave 3.5 stars (out of 5) stating, "Karthi has essayed his role in an almost self-effacing manner while allowing the space for other people's acts of courage in the narration to get their due screen time. Kaithi is the director's canvas. It is necessary to appreciate Karthi to let Lokesh do his thing without trying to bend the narration to suit his star image. The director softly but firmly announces himself as a major new force in the commercial space of the Tamil film industry, which still largely feeds on the narrow definition of mainstream entertainment."[92] S. Srivatsan, writing for The Hindu, stated the film as "one of the best action thriller ever made since Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru". Further reviewing that "Kaithi does have its 'mass' moments, but there is a certain level of screenwriting that has gone into conceiving those. The plot contains all the elements of a conventional suspense-thriller, but where Kaithi differs is by how Lokesh Kanagaraj treats the genre and its audience with respect."[93] Karthik Kumar of Hindustan Times stated it as "an action film with a soul and a purpose" while also stated that "though it is not a crowd-pleasing commercial film, it still caters to the masses".[94]

Sify gave three-and-a-half out of five stars stating "Kaithi is a solid action thriller and it will be a feast for action lovers".[43] Ashameera Aiyyappan of The New Indian Express stated the film as "a well-made commercial thriller".[95] Calling it as "brilliant" and "engaging thriller", Anupama Subramanian of Deccan Chronicle gave four out of five, saying "Kaithi with its solid story combined with outstanding performances and flawless making is set to stand the test of time".[96] The News Minute-based editor-in-chief, Priyanka Thirumurthy, gave four out of five stating "There is no star in Kaithi, as director Lokesh shows that a hero is anyone who goes beyond thinking about just himself."[97] Baradwaj Rangan wrote for Film Companion South, "Kaithi is certainly a sturdy vehicle for Karthi, who – as Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru so memorably demonstrated – is one of our few actors who can do both Clark Kent (through his face) and Superman (through his stocky frame). There's a fantastic "mass" scene, set around a swimming pool, where Dilli stuffs himself with biriyani – it's a stunning few minutes of a purely physical performance. It's strange how this Karthi looks and sounds so genteel and urban in real life, but his best work on screen is when he's got a bit of animal inside him."[98]

Accolades[edit]

Award[a] Date of ceremony[b] Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards 11 January 2020 Best Supporting Actor – Male George Maryan Won [99]
Best Stunt Director Anbariv Won
Critics' Choice Film Awards 14 March 2020 Best Actor – Male Karthi Nominated [100]
[101]
Norway Tamil Film Festival Awards 15 January 2020 Best Actor Karthi Won [102]
Best Villain Arjun Das Won
Best Editor Philomin Raj Won
South Indian International Movie Awards 18 September 2021 Best Film – Tamil Dream Warrior Pictures Won [103]
[104]
Best Director – Tamil Lokesh Kanagaraj Nominated
Best Actor – Tamil Karthi Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Tamil George Maryan Won
Narain Nominated
Best Actor in a Negative Role – Tamil Arjun Das Won
Best Actor in a Comedian – Tamil Dheena Nominated
Best Cinematographer – Tamil Sathyan Sooryan Nominated
Zee Cine Awards Tamil 4 January 2020 Favourite Director Lokesh Kanagaraj Won [105]
[106]
Best Stunt Director Anbariv Won
Best Villain Arjun Das Won
Best Supporting Actor – Male George Maryan Won

Impact[edit]

Kaithi's success made the lead antagonist Arjun Das gain popularity after its release and becoming a much sought actor.[107]

Kaithi received appreciation from several members of the film fraternity,[108] including Gautham Vasudev Menon heaped praise on the film's trailer saying it as "intense and theatre worthy".[109] Karthik Subbaraj called the film as "kick-ass film with lot of Wow moments through out",[110] while Mahesh Babu, who watched the film, praised Lokesh for the exclusion of songs and technical brilliance, as a "welcome change" for the industry.[111] Cinematographer P. C. Sreeram, who watched the film through Hotstar, called it as "an edge of the seat experience". He further praised Lokesh's direction and Sathyan Sooryan's (an apprentice of Sreeram) work in the film.[112] Lokesh, in an interview with an online portal, stated that Vijay, who signed him for directing Master (2021), during the post-production of Kaithi, had watched the final rushes of the film before its release. He further stated that Vijay appreciated his work in the film and congratulated him before the release.[113]

The film's success made Lokesh a most sought director in Tamil cinema who later worked on several projects of top actors.[114][115] Arjun Das, who played the main antagonist, Anbu, received praise for his characterisation and performance and his loud bass voice for the character gained him a huge following.[21] Lokesh roped him for Master.[116][117] Further, Arjun Das' Andhaghaaram, which completed production in 2014 but remained unreleased for more than six years following exhibitors' refusal to distribute the film, citing lack of prominent faces, was presented by director Atlee in 2020, following Arjun Das' popularity after in Kaithi, and released directly through Netflix the same year.[118][119]

Kaithi's success had trade analysts researching about how commercial films without featuring songs but become hits are a rarity in Tamil cinema.[120] Film producer-cum-analyst G. Dhananjayan examined that "For certain type of films, songs are not required while for others, right inclusion of songs satisfy audience who are looking for entertainment as the key element [...] Directors like Sridhar, K Balachander, Bharathirajaa, Balu Mahendra, Mahendran, Mani Ratnam, Shankar have used songs effectively to communicate their stories and not as commercial elements [...] If such approach is followed by other filmmakers, the necessity of songs in films would be unquestioned".[121]

The film revived the popularity of the song "Jumbalakka", composed by A. R. Rahman from the film En Swasa Kaatre (1999);[122] in a scene from Kaithi where the students play an assortment of songs using a music player in loud volume to distract the prisoners from commandeering instructions to their comrades outside the police station. The song became a trend after the release of the film.[39]

Future[edit]

Lokesh Cinematic Universe[edit]

Kaithi serves as the first instalment in the planned Lokesh Cinematic Universe (LCU). In June 2022, Lokesh stated that the film was interlinked with the Kamal Haasan-starrer Vikram (2022).[123] Avinash Ramachandran, writing for Cinema Express stated the possibilites of the connection, within the two films, referring to stash of drugs which had scorpion symbol (shown in Vikram's trailer), and in a scene where, Inspector Bejoy (Narain) while speaking to informer Ajhas Ahmed (Kanna Ravi), questions about "The Ghost", Suriya's undisclosed cameo before the film's release and several speculations.[124] Before Vikram's release, Lokesh asked fans to watch Kaithi before Vikram to understand the context of the film,[125] thereby confirming its connection with the two films.[126]

Narain reprises his role in brief as Inspector Bejoy in Vikram. Additionally, Arjun Das, Harish Uthaman, Hareesh Peradi, Dheena and Baby Monica, reprises their roles in cameo appearances as Anbu, Adaikalam, Stephen Raj, Kamatchi and Amudha, respectively, in the film's mid-credits scene, while Karthi reprised his role in a voice-over.[127]

Sequels[edit]

As implied at the end of the film, Lokesh had planned for a sequel, which he confirmed after its release.[128] In an interview with Subha J Rao to Firstpost, Lokesh conveyed his interest on developing the film into a franchise, stating that he had an idea for both prequel as well as sequel, which depends on the recurring schedules of the cast members.[39] In May 2021, the film's producer S. R. Prabhu had confirmed the sequel is in the works.[129] It has been reported that the team had filmed most of the scenes during the shooting of the first part and only 30 days of shooting has been left.[130][131]

Kaithi 2 is intended to be a prequel for Dilli, focusing on his character.[132] In June 2022, Lokesh, in an interview with Baradwaj Rangan, revealed the backstory of Dilli, saying that he was a kabaddi player, and won several trophies in tournaments conducted when he was in prison.[133] He also hinted in the climax, as Dilli walks with a bag full of trophies.[132][133] Later, in an interaction with fans through Twitter, he further explained about Anbu's return in Vikram, as he was knocked out and not dead, though he had stitch marks in his jaw, due to the injuries.[134]

Following the success of Vikram, Lokesh planned to expand the scale of the sequel,[132] with S. R. Prabhu admitting that it would be bigger than the first film.[135] Production of the film was expected to begin in the second quarter of 2022, but was delayed as Lokesh intended to resume the project after completing his planned project with Vijay, under the tentative title Thalapathy 67, which is also a part of the LCU.[136]

Remake[edit]

In February 2020, Madhu Mantena and Reliance Entertainment confirmed they have bought the rights for Hindi remake of the film,[137][138] and Ajay Devgn is signed to play the lead role.[139] The film's title Bholaa was announced on 13 January 2022, and it is scheduled for theatrical release on 30 March 2023.[140][141] In March 2020, it was reported that the film will be remade in Kannada, with Shiva Rajkumar playing the lead role.[142]

Controversy[edit]

A petition was filed against the producer S. R. Prabhu, by Rajiv Ranjan, a native from Kollam district in Kerala, for lifting his story without his permission.[143] In his statement, he wrote an autobiography after spending years at the Puzhal Central Prison (Chennai) in 2000. He narrated his story to Prabhu in 2007, which he had agreed to use as a film script and paid Rajeev ₹10,000 in advance. When Lokesh made the film, he was shocked to see that it was the same story, which the producer narrated to him and felt cheated, resulting him to file a petition at Kollam High Court, Kerala to stop the works on the sequel and its remake. The court gave verdict in favour of him in July 2021, while also demanded the producer to pay 40 million (US$500,000) as a compensation, for allegedly mimicking his story.[144] This was pointed on a leading news channel, which also led derogatory comments against Lokesh in response to the issue.[145] Following the accusations, Prabhu slammed the channel for the way the issue was reported and claimed that they do not have details pertaining to the case and hence cannot comment on the issue. However, they noted that they are ready to face any legal issues with respect to the controversy, since their records are clean.[146] On 14 February 2022, the Kerala Court dismissed the copyright allegations and stated that the story belongs to Lokesh.[147][148]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Awards, festivals and organisations are in Alphabetical order.
  2. ^ Date is linked to the article about the awards held that year, wherever possible.

References[edit]

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