After breaking ours hearts with a sweeping romantic tragedy, Prabhu Solomon returns with a story where an elephant is playing the eponymous character. Kumki takes place in a hilly village called Aadhi Kaadu where a notorious wild elephant, which goes by the name Komban, has been causing ruckus for many years. From bringing down huts to destroying the plantation, the elephant eventually goes to the extent of trampling a villager. Deciding to put an end to this menace, the villagers decide to use the services of a 'kumki' elephant, which are traditionally known to help keep away wild elephants. In comes a mahout named Bomman and his elephant Manickam, who offer to help the villagers.
Bomman naturally falls in love with the village chief's daughter named Alli. This is a very lazy cliche and is reminiscent of so many other movies which have used this same element. Why can't she be just some random villager's daughter? Anyway, what follows is a tumultuous series of events which forever changes the lives of the two lovers and elephant. Close to the end, though, a degree of predictability creeps in, affecting the good work the film had managed to do.
I know this comparison might sound too wayward to some but the plotline of Kumki sort of reminded me of Kurosawa's Seven Samauri. Seriously, think about it.
In all these years, I have never regretted not watching a Tamil film on the biggest screen available. But sitting through Kumki, I couldn't help but wish for exactly that. The cinematography is gorgeous and a certain shots are seriously vertigo-inducing. The lush greenery and the wet locales go a long way in creating the right atmosphere. I have been sitting here trying to think of a better sounding movie and nothing comes to mind. I had not listened to the soundtrack before, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how very effective Imman's music was.
The film kept getting postponed due to delay in the heavy CG work and I am not sure if the wait was worth it. A fight sequence taking place between the Kumki and the Komban has a lot of CG shots. I mean, the elephant is no Richard Parker by any stretch but the work is acceptable. Lakshmi Menon, who impressed with her debut in Sundarapandian, which remains my favorite ensemble performance, shines in Kumki. But the star of the film is debutante Vikram Prabhu who is very convincing as the lovestruck mahout. It is not quite the tour de force debut Karthi had with Paruthiveeran, but he totally makes you root for him.
Kumki is a film with a lot of heart. After a lot of forgettable movies, Prabhu Solomon appears to be on a good run, and I hope the streak continues. Chances are it may not work for everyone but, walking in with no expectations, it surely did for me.