Thimiru Pudichavan Review: An exasperating cop film

Thimiru Pudichavan begins with several instances of adolescent boys who are disgruntled with their families. In one instance, it is lack of money that leads to discontent; a mother has to give money for the poster of a local thug (she won’t be able to run her small shop otherwise) instead of giving it to her son. Thus, the son gets the idea that being a rowdy is cooler. He and two other friends of his, with similar stories, end up with the rowdy whose den doubles up as a training space for delinquents. Sounds good right? Pretty relevant too, considering how our on-screen heroes celebrate gang culture. But sadly, Thimiru Pudichavan is yet another example of how a good idea can be ruined by an all-over-the-place screenplay with more than its fair share of masala.

Cast: Vijay Antony, Nivetha Pethuraj
Director: Ganeshaa

Kollywood filmmakers have a tendency, one can even call it fondness, to ‘package’ everything. Every commercial film is promoted as a ‘package’ of drama, comedy, romance, action, etc. But Ganeshaa takes the term a bit too seriously. If you think you’re going to get just a cop film, you’re sorely mistaken. Of course, there’s the usual drama, sentiment, and action. But Thimiru Pudichavan goes beyond and brings in elements of science-fiction, horror, and even covers the ‘Amman’ genre. Murugavel (Vijay Antony) suffers from insomnia, so there’s an ‘insomnia watch’ (a glorified BP tracker) that beeps annoyingly when his levels peak or drop dangerously. There’s an action sequence in front of a temple (yes, with the Naga Naga song) that is perilously close to an Amman film, complete with a VFX blow up of Lord Muruga.

A brick-faced Vijay Antony is supposed to be the glue that holds this haphazard, mish-mash of genres. And to the hero’s credit, he takes a fair amount of digs. It’s fun to hear Madonna (Nivetha Pethuraj) ask, “Enna ya, un mugathula love feeling um varala, thambi setha sogam um illa.” But otherwise, Murugavel is a quintessential commercial hero, a walking moral science text-book who can’t miss a step. He uses electric current as a conduit to up his BP levels, survives it and continues to thrash the villain. When he fires his gun, the victim doesn’t simply fall, he flies to the nearest dustbin. The police walkie-talkie is solely used to parrot his deeds (his promotion actually comes as an announcement on it). He asks his fellow cops to do their job honestly, and they rush work in biriyani shops and tea shops to redeem themselves for their corrupt past.

The film does have a few good moments and most of these belong to Nivetha Pethuraj, who I quite liked as the corrupt cop, Madonna. She pulls off the Madras slang and seems to handle comedy well. But her character loses steam when she slips into the deeply-carved trenches of the loosu ponnu template. Then she does nothing more than serve as the bumbling sidekick who gives way for the hero. Another good moment comes when Vijay Antony delivers a deeply-meaningful dialogue about trans women. The villain (Sai Dheena) gets one too, as Murugavel asks for his last wish and accosts him, he hits back with, “Enakaga oru chicken sethruku, saptutu sagava?” However, such interesting moments and dialogues are very few in number. For most of the duration, it was just a puzzled me trying to decipher what was going on, and by the end of the film if I had an ‘insomnia watch’ on my wrist, it would have surely burst.

This was originally written for The New Indian Express.You can find it here.

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