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Kurangu Pedal Movie Review: A nostalgic tale of childhood which could have been explored more

Kurangu Pedal Movie Review: The film had all the potential out there and also had them served almost on a platter, but failed to capitalise into making it something deeper

Kurangu Pedal Movie Review: A nostalgic tale of childhood which could have been explored more
Kurangu Pedal

Last Updated: 08.12 AM, May 02, 2024


Kurangu Pedal story

Set in the 1980s in a rural Tamil Nadu place called Katheri, Kurangu Pedal is about a fifth grader, Mariappa (Santhosh Velmurugan), who aspires to learn how to ride a bicycle during his summer vacations. He does so, much to the chagrin of his father Kandasamy (Kaali Venkat), who is rebuked for his inability to ride cycles and nicknamed Natraja Service by the villagers. Kurangu Pedal follows the ups and downs of Mariappa whose sole purpose of spending his vacation is to learn how to ride a cycle, all by himself.

Kurangu Pedal review


It is said that often the conflicts and obstacles that a person faces during their primitive years make and shape them what they are, as their years on this earth progress. Kurangu Pedal zeroes down this very same philosophy and takes us through the journey of a young boy who is just about to enjoy the perks of his childhood, and sizes down a conflict worthy of his age; to learn how to ride a bicycle. His only obstacle is his father who doesn’t ride a cycle himself and hence has to find the vehicle to learn on his own. Joined by a couple more of his friends, who are as eager as him, the boys rent out from a local cycle shop owner and learn to ride.

Kurangu Pedal is a simple film that heavily relies on its making and execution. It amply borrows the nature of the landscape, the rocky and mountainous regions, the banks of the Cauvery River, and even has its characters flaunt the Kongu dialect in its true-blue form. For once, the film in a unique sense of depiction, often shows its viewpoints from the gaps of cycle wheel stokes, suggesting however small the conflict is to the other, it has to be seen through the lens of one who is facing it and not the one who is merely a spectator. In this case, for the boys, it is the task of shelling out paisas to rent the cycle and be able to learn to ride on their own. The camera is set just a few feet from the ground, thus making you understand the children’s conflict from their standpoint.

There are sporadic stretches of one-liners that evoke some laughter, and characters that come for a moment, like a breath of fresh air, say a school teacher often known for his strictness comes off as a delight off school grounds. But the film merely floats on these lighter moments rather than delving into creating a connection with its people and land. A glimpse of a girl much younger than them knowing how to ride a bicycle instigates Mariappa and his friends to learn too, but we never get to understand the liberating emotions that the boy chases after by learning to ride one.

We are also shown that Kandasamy is averse to his son learning to ride, and he himself walks to places than taking a simple route through vehicles. But it is only fleetingly suggested about his aversions, instead of deep-delving into his psyche and how it plays out, which could have made up for a rather interesting understanding narrative. Kurangu Pedal had all the potential out there and also had it served almost on a platter, but fails to capitalise into making it something deeper, more emotional and attachable and sticks to the literal sense of the conflict. There is also a message that comes during the climax, a sense of companionship and a helping hand, all that can easily make it to the textbooks of moral science class. But had Kurangu Pedal taken a nuanced route to communicate this, it would have felt even more impactful.

Kurangu Pedal verdict

Kurangu Pedal is essentially a slice-of-life drama that follows a character whose triumph we ought to hoot and cheer for. But as much as the film tries to give that and brims with so much potential, I found that my cheers were confined to only some soft smiles, instead of thunderous applause. Kurangu Pedal is a film that doesn’t scream big emotions, because it tucks away all its learnings much like the father character, to its nooks and corners of one-liners. It has some tough walls to break and had it only, it would have won the race in the most glorious fashion.

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