Theri has attained blockbuster status in south and has surpassed Akshay Kumar’s Airlift in foreign circuits. It has grabbed Akshay’s attention so much that he has initiated talks to acquire rights for its Hindi remake. The promos looked great from the beginning and the presence of Vijay ensures that it will never be a drab and boring affair. So I walked into this film with mixed expectations and I am walking out of it with mixed feelings. The film was sensational in parts and average in some others. While it is plagued by the same problem that plagues most south Indian films, the problem of believability, the film packs enough punch and panache through its principal cast to ensure those who buy the tickets have enough to cheer about and have a great time.
The story revolves around an uptight and inhumanly powerful Deputy Commissioner of Police Vijay Kumar (Vijay) who falls in love with a girl. Just when he settles into holy matrimony with her and all feels blessed, disaster strikes and his mother and wife are brutally murdered. On the moment of her death, Vijay’s wife requests him to get out of the life of a cop and also keep her infant daughter safe. Vijay turns a new leaf and becomes Joseph, a perfect father who is exactly the opposite of who Vijay was. But as luck would have it, he is soon discovered by an old foe who comes after him with all he has got to settle an old score. Vijay must now re-discover his long lost self to fight for whatever he holds dear.
This is a highly stylized film which relies heavily on style and editing to amp-up its ante. There are plenty of action sequences to please those who are in for the fights and yet somehow it is able to maintain a sweet balance between the violence, drama and comedy. Vijay has been doing colossus action sequences leading up to this and he is way too comfortable to make any real mistakes. The fact that he is so likeable even when he is committing murder only adds to his charm as an action hero. The stunt choreography is also solid and packs a punch. The film is shot beautifully. This is something I have noticed with South Indian films. They are almost always superbly shot and colored. I can’t tell you how much it helps to get immersed in a narrative that is beautiful to look at. The editing is smooth. That’s another plus for an action film.
Apart from the action, the film’s next highlight is the chemistry between the actors. The first half has some really innocent and yet powerful drama between Vijay and baby Nainika. She is extremely natural and affective in her essay. Their chemistry feels real and you mince your teeth every time the safety and security of the girl is at stake. The chemistry between Vijay and Samantha who plays his wife is great. Their romance is chirpy and I felt invested in their story. I wanted to see where their story goes. The manner in which Samantha’s character is killed is even more shocking. This is another key element of the film. It changes moods and gears so quickly and smoothly that you can’t help but be impressed by its achievement. it alternates effortlessly between the racy action sequences and the soft and chirpy romantic moments.
The only under-cooked part remains the love angle between Amy Jackson’s character and that of Vijay. This story needed more development to make an impact. This was the same problem that Amy’s character suffered from in Thandavam and the same happens here too. J Mahendran makes for a great baddy. You can actually feel his angst and hatred for Vijay as the two have simple dialogs. His take of the character is simple and yet effective. He doesn’t have a very long role but makes the most of what is given to him. Rajendran , the scintillating villain from Naan Kadavul is a good guy here and he is amazing in his act.
Overall, Theri is a crowd pleaser which has the potential to rise above its level every now and then thanks to the endearing performances of its lead actors. The action is well choreographed and is sprinkled all over the narrative to give you the “tadka” that you go in expecting from a Vijay film. The music is nothing extraordinary but has its own place. Theri is old wine in a new package but that doesn’t mean that it’s not good. Infact it’s rollicking.
Rating : 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)
Science Fiction has been a genre in the rut in India since the inception of cinema. Films like Shree, Love Story 2050, and Action Replayy have taken it further down with their insipid and horrendous storytelling, tacky special effects and brain-cancer inducing performences. Thus the expectations are never high from Indian science fiction films. Thankfully, the latest Tamil film 24 starring Suriya is miles better than any of the Science fiction films to have come out in India in quite few years. The last film better than this was Rajni’s Robot or to some extent Vikram’s I, both of which were directed by S. Shankar. The trailers made it clear that the film involved a watch and it involved time travel too with atleast three versions of Suriya on display but what the trailer didn’t reveal was the superb twists and turns and almost perfect rendering of the science fiction element in the tale.
The story revolves around Sethuraman, a watch scientist who builds a watch that can teleport you back and forth in time. His evil brother Athreya attacks him to get that watch. After a sensational fight sequence, Sethuraman and his wife are killed by Athreya while Sethuraman is able to save his infant son and the watch successfully from Athreya and tricks him into jumping off a running train. Years later, Sethu’s son Mani has grown up to be gifted watch mechanic and a chance discovery of his father’s invention sets him en-route to facing his past and discovering his father’s legacy. Athreya too has survived the jump and is crippled waist down. He also comes back to get the watch, travel back in time and change the series of events that made him the way he is now.
24 is a superbly acted film. Suriya leads from the front. He essays three different characters and excels in all the roles. However his act as Athreya is the best. The dude is crippled to a chair but is fearsome. The posture and his mannerism make you believe that he is actually the jilted cripple that he portrays and his hatred for Mani and Sethu feel very real. Interestingly Suriya feels extremely real even in the comic sequences. Samantha Ruth Prabhu is cute as his love interest and does her part flawlessly. The romantic sequences garner value and beauty because of her act. Saranya Ponvannan is gorgeous in her act as Mani’s adopted mother. She exudes so much authority and warmth in her role that it is difficult not to like her character. No one else makes that much of an impact as the film is solely dependent on the three faceted act of Suriya.
24 is beautifully shot. I haven’t seen too many films in the recent past that look as plush as 24. The colors are highly saturated and ravishing. Loads of slow motion and freeze frame motions are used and used with aplomb. The action and the chase sequences are done organically. I was blown away by the two sequences that happen in the past and involve Sethuraman and Athreya. The action sequence at Phoenix Watch Company is also done superbly. The film also boasts of some very well-choreographed song and dance routines. However I felt that the last song just before the film shifts its gear for the last time was ill timed and was not warranted.
Apart from the great visuals and the superb performance of Suriya, 24 has a gripping screenplay and a more than interesting story. It does suspend believability at many junctures and that we tend to associate with science fiction films but does enough to atleast keep us believing in the story, narrative and the characters. In doing so it helps us to enjoy the narrative and also take the characters seriously. The action is organic and is not used as mare pieces of props and pulls. The romance is genuine and blossoms in a way that can be fathomed. The villain is ravishing and fearful. Even in his discrepancies, he is fearsome. The fearfulness of his character only makes the duels between him and the hero that much more tense and gripping. The final end of the villain is befitting and strangely enough tags the first scene of the film to the last showing an uncanny characteristic of time that says that what is supposed to happen always happens.
Overall, 24 is a highly entertaining film that can be watched multiple times purely because of the performances, action, story and the visuals. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I believe that will be the case with you too.
Rating : 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)
Srimanthudu is such a sweet film that if you watch it more than a few times then you may contract Diabetes from it. It is probably one of the best Mahesh Babu films of all times and definitely my favorite Mahesh Babu film till date. It has a feel of being a Shankar film as it feels very similar in treatment and content to some of Shankar’s earlier works. It’s a film laced with drama, sentimentalities, comedy and the necessary actions. However what really propels the film miles ahead of the rest is its intent and the character that the director wants to put forth through Mahesh Babu. Sans the obvious Masala content that is present here and there, Srimanthudu is a film that remains rooted to some key social issues.
Harsha (Mahesh Babu) is the son of a multi-millionaire but he has a very different heart from the rest of his kins. He enjoys to hang around with his company’s staff members, he cares for their need and inspite of being a first class engineer, he spends most of his time thinking about what best to do with his life. A chance encounter with a beautiful girl Charu (Shruti Hassan), changes his life for good and brings him face to face with his true legacy. He joins a course on rural development and then goes on to use the techniques he learns on a village that he adopts. Backed by his father’s gigantic wealth, Harsha sets about to bring some real changes in the lives of the people he cares about. There are challenges a plenty in the form of a corrupt minister and his family who has a long past with Harsha and his family but Harsha will not be put down by it.
What I loved about Srimanthudu are the little set pieces depicting our culture and moral values. There is a scene where Harsha goes to one of his staff member’s house on the day when his daughter’s marriage is being finalized. What happens next is heart warming. Once the story shifts to the village, the narrative not only gets more exciting but also extremely organic. Harsha’s eagerness to help others comes as a surprise considering the fact that the rest of his family is totally oblivious to such issues. But as the film progresses we understand the roots of his ideas and where they spring from. Shruti Hassan plays an extremely likeable character who works as a catalyst for Harsha adopting the village. Her character brings Harsha face to face with his past and also shows him the path to doing what he must.
As is the case with most Mahesh Babu films, Srimanthudu is gorgeously shot. Elaborate sets, beautiful locales, terrific choreography and cinematography of songs and some stunning costumes that practically light up the screen. The film has a characteristic plush feel to it in which even the rustic topography of villages are presented in a highly saturated color palate. The villagers, though in need, are shown to reside in gigantic houses, but still you are expected to believe that they are poor primarily because their lands can be taken away from them at any time. The film is so heartwarming and earnest that you submit to believe even the most extreme of situations. Mahesh Babu turns in one of his best performences till date. What was astounding about his act was his natural turn this time. Mahesh is known for his over the top action, glittering persona and commanding screen presence but here he successfully gets in the skin of the character and invokes emotions for the man that Harsha is.
Having said that the film still has its share of actions and over the top moments. I just loved the action sequence in the marriage party wherein Harsha beats up a whole gang of goons without anyone actually seeing him in action. The fight sequence on the highway was also superb. The same can be said about the action sequence at the antagonist’s den where Harsha beats up a truck load of marauding goons without breaking a sweat. Mukesh Rishi plays the primary antagonist and honestly speaking he doesn’t have much to do apart from looking sullen and mouthing hate lines. His character is the same cardboard rendering of a traditional bad guy who wrongs the hero even before he is born, then gets into a tangle with him when he is young and then finally gets put down by him in the end. Srimanthudu takes a very commercial path in establishing a similar issue as what was addressed in a film called “Swades”. However the fact that this film is so commercial only makes it much more accessible to a whole lot of people who went into this film for entertainment but came out with a lot more than merely that.
I wouldn’t have loved this film any different. It’s a rollicking entertainer with all the masala and glitz that we expect of a Mahesh Babu starrer but more material than almost half of his films combined together. The film has its heart in the right place and is powerful enough to spawn others in its ideology. The simplistic and heroic rendering of its protagonist only makes easier for him to connect with the masses. The action and romance bits will help to keep the entertainment value up and will appeal to the masses as well. The underlying message of the film will be delivered to one and all and many will listen to a lot of lecturing without even knowing that they are actually listening to a social commentary. That is one of the defining characteristic of this film. I loved Srimanthudu and I believe you will love it too.
Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)
Kabali violently oscillates between being a roaring entertainer in the truest Rajni image and a hamming exhausting piece of overdone pseudo sentimental muck. The film’s fate was totally dependent on which of it, it was more and unfortunately it’s more of the later than the previous. I have to admit that I enjoyed Lingaa much more than this film. People panned Lingaa across India. Even in Tamil Nadu it wasn’t a hit but Kabali has hit the jackpot from the very first show. I totally fail to understand why. If it was star power then Lingaa should have been a bigger hit. Here is a film that shows Rajnikant in his truest age in a long time. It had the potential to showcase multiple facets of the man but unfortunately ends up being an old man’s search for a wife for so long that you lose interest in the basic premise involving a blood feud between gangs.
Kabali (Rajni) is released from prison after two decades. He comes back to his area in Malaysia where he literally was the law of the land. He is the savior for the Tamils who are subjugated by the Chinese and the locals alike. Upon his return he starts off settling things that went haywire when he was gone. The biggest of the problems being drugs. It was also one of primary reasons for him being double crossed and implicated for murder and causing riots two decades ago. The villains who had the better of him are back too and are much more powerful now. Upon his return he also remembers his past in a long flash back that introduces us to his younger self and his wife played by Radhika Apte. Post the flashbacks, he gets multiple clues to the fact that his wife and daughter might still be alive, who he had presumed dead for so long. He is quickly reunited with his daughter and then the hunt begins for the mother. This is where the film goes downhill.
The portion involving the search for the wife is extremely irrelevant to us the viewers. It may be a matter of importance for Kabali but what the viewers were more invested in was how Kabali would end the drug cartel and bring the men who destroyed his life to justice. the proceedings do take you there to start with and then suddenly post the father daughter re-union, the revenge is completely forgotten. Kabali enjoys parental bliss, suffers through an assassination attempt and then goes after looking for his wife. All this happens at a snail’s pace and with minimum involvement of the audience. Post their re-union there is still no emotional connect between the audiences and the characters. These are some of the reason that really take down the film.
The film does recover a bit towards the end but the final blitz is not enough to make you forget the boredom that you have come through all this while. Rajni is in full flow but the material is so mediocre that even his charisma is not enough to elevate this film. I really loved his act in the first fifteen – twenty minutes of the film. Even in the climax he oozes his famous charm. He does move well for someone his age and the spark is still very much present. Radhika Apte is cast in a role that could have been done by anyone. She doesn’t add anything to the role. Ironically, in every film that she has had a major role in, Apte has always added something extra to her character. But not here. Dhansika plays his daughter Yogi an she is used like a prop at best.
What this film needed was a lot more action and chase sequences. Some stylish Rajni antiques and the story needed to concentrate on the revenge and feud between Kabali and the villains. It would have also served better to kill of Radhika Apte’s character and add it as a reason for Kabali to go after the antagonists. Something that was done so very well in Amitabh Bachchan’s Aakhri Rasta. But unfortunately that is not the case here. Kabali is a huge disappointment for me. I am a big Rajni fan and I wait for the superstar’s films and that too with humongous expectations. The problem in this film was more with the direction and story than with Rajni’s essay. Overall Kabali is an insipid and boring affair with flashes of brilliance here and there which are in no way enough to satisfy the viewers.
Rating: 2/5 (2 out of 5 Stars)