‘Kabadadaari’ movie review: A mildly-interesting police procedural

Sakthi is a traffic cop whose hobby is to play chess. Early in the film, he triumphs in a game against a kid and says, “Oru sadhaarna sippai raja va adichittan (An ordinary soldier has won against the king).”

In many ways, he himself is a pawn in the scheme of things in the police department. His everyday routine is unexciting: wake up at 6am, do a couple of push-ups and report for duty near traffic signals and reprimand those riding around without helmets or licenses.

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But Sakthi aspires to be much more, and embroil himself in the rather exciting world of pursuing those indulging in higher crimes. His aim is to be the cop who cracks unsolved mysteries, but in real-life, he is but a pawn, with no kingdom to conquer and no war to wage.


  • Cast: Sibiraj, Nandita Swetha, Jayaprakash, Nasser
  • Director: Pradeep Krishnamoorthy
  • Storyline: A traffic policeman gets involved in cracking a criminal case

Like Sakthi, Kumar (Jayaprakash) is also a pawn; as the editor of Lock Up News, a newspaper that no one really reads, he is also berefit of purpose. The two stumble upon something (a couple of skeletons are accidentally discovered near an area he is monitoring) and soon, their detective-like instincts kick in. Is there something more than what meets the eye? Is there an old case that Sakthi can, finally, hope to solve?

‘Kabadadaari’ is the remake of Kannada film ‘Kavaludaari’, which was acclaimed for its presentation. Much like the original, the Tamil version too sticks to the core plotline. Thankfully, there are no major masala add-ons. But ‘Kabadadaari’ does suffer from a sense of artificialness throughout; in the performances, in the dialogue delivery. When Sakthi talks with Swathi (Nandita Sweta, in a minor role), it’s brief. When Sakthi interacts with Ramya (Suman Rangannathan, with a jarring performance), it’s just chatter. All these come across as lines, not as conversation.

There’s tension in the music (Simon King’s thumping background score adds value), but sometimes, it just doesn’t show in the performances. Sibiraj has the build and earnestness to play a cop, but doesn’t fully convey the simmering tension he’s supposed to.

However, what aids director Pradeep Krishnamoorthy is the rich original material that he taps into. A couple of sequences are staged well; the sweet irony of a traffic situation coming back to haunt Sakthi plays out nicely. It helps that there are two seasoned performers in Jayaprakash and Nasser to back him up. A couple of interesting revelations towards the climax will also appeal, especially to those who haven’t caught up on the original.


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