Garuden review: High Stakes and Intense Emotions in Rural Setting

The film Garuden opens with Minister Thangapandi (R.V. Udayakumar) eyeing a valuable tract of land owned by the Kombaiammam Temple. In the heart of Kombai, we are introduced to Aadhi (Sasikumar) and Karuna (Unni Mukundan), childhood friends with an unbreakable bond, and Sokkan (Soori), a devoted servant to Karuna’s family. Sokkan, an orphan who once saved Karuna’s life, is an integral part of both families, managing their affairs with unwavering dedication.

The plot thickens when the minister’s henchman (Mime Gopi) arrives in Kombai, presenting Karuna with a tantalizing offer: betray Aadhi and relinquish the temple documents in exchange for immense wealth. Swayed by his wife’s ambitions, Karuna succumbs, triggering a chain of tragic events. Karuna’s grandmother, Sellaayi (Vadivukkarasi), dies under suspicious circumstances, paving the way for the land’s takeover. Karuna, exploiting Sokkan’s loyalty, appoints him as the new trustee, a calculated move to secure the documents. Unaware of Karuna’s deceit, Aadhi is mercilessly murdered, with Sokkan witnessing the horrifying act. Struggling between his loyalty to Karuna and his sense of justice, Sokkan faces a gut-wrenching decision, leading to an inevitable violent showdown.

Garuden” maintains a brisk pace, with hardly a dull moment. The film vividly portrays the deep bonds among the three main characters, making the betrayal all the more poignant. Sokkan stands out as a complex character, torn by conflicting emotions. His inability to lie in his master’s presence and his stream-of-consciousness outbursts add moments of levity to the intense narrative.

However, the film’s heavy reliance on graphic violence feels excessive. The relentless stabbings, throat slittings, and maimings become repetitive, diminishing their impact. The betrayal drama, reminiscent of “Sundarapandian,” follows a familiar trope. Additionally, Aadhi’s decision to bring a baby to a knife fight feels jarringly out of place, and despite multiple warnings, his walk into his demise feels frustratingly predictable.

In terms of screen time, Sasikumar, Soori, and Unni Mukundan share the spotlight equally. Sasikumar delivers his role with his characteristic flair, while Unni Mukundan gives a sincere performance. However, it is Soori who truly elevates the film. His portrayal of Sokkan’s transformation from a loyal servant to a man fighting for justice provides the emotional backbone of the story. Soori continues his streak of impressive performances, following his role in “Vidhuthalai.” Vadivukkarasi’s brief but impactful appearance and Shivada Nair’s effective use of her limited screen time also stand out.

Yuvan Shankar Raja’s background score enhances the film’s emotional tone, with a notable absence of songs, which seems fitting. Arthur Wilson’s cinematography captures the earthy, muddy ambiance of the brickfields with a gritty realism. “Garuden” will appeal to those who enjoy emotionally charged rural action dramas.


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