Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Slick firearm. Blank cartridge.

Okay let me confess.The main or the only reason for watching this movie was 'pester pressure'. Yes, we watched Thuppaki only on the insistence of a very assertive 4.5 yr old! We were very, very reluctant but finally gave in. What's in a watching a movie over a dull weekend anyway.

The only motivating factor was Murugadoss. We felt it might not be an utter trash movie because it is written and directed by Murugadoss of the Ghajini and 7-am Arivi fame. Rightly so. I think he was the only saving grace of what could have been one of those zillion terrorist movies. Haven't Arjun and Vijaykant nabbed all terrorists already? Well there seem to be lots more left for our heroes to single-handedly handle. What else would they do with all their physical prowess and intelligence?
So you have yet another hero-confronting-a-terrorist movie. But quite a few differences though. a) The very puzzled hero doesn't ask the most popular Tamilian monosyllabic existential question, "Yen? yen?" (why? why?) b) There are no fiery Jehad speeches by the 'terraarist' c) We don't even know which country they belong to. Those who aren't familiar with a and b, please refer to the aforementioned Vijaykant/Arjun movies or even Maniratnam's Roja for a better understanding. And oh, the difference  d) is that we have a totally drool-worthy handler of the terrorists.
Vidyut  Wow Jamwal! Amazingly fit, deadly voice and nice teeth. Move over, the tobacco chewing-stubbled terror chiefs of the past. You have a damn good looking competitor who is vain enough to engage in fist fights with anyone giving his ego the slightest pin prick.

Well, this is a script no hero, established or otherwise could have said 'no' to. An extremely brave and intelligent character. Army captain. A great opportunity to
show-off those 'we love our Indian army' sentiments. Maybe Vijay was too tired after all that emoting he did in Kaavalan and Nanban because he really didn't need to open up that facet here at all. And Murugadoss has done quite a bit of thinking for Vijay. I must say the plot is interesting. The twists and turns are all nice. There is a very broad but fair insight into how the terrorist groups actually work. (Alright, I'm not a stickler for logic, esp in movies). Though nothing is unexpected really, the director manages to get your attention. But we would have loved a little more of tension and suspense. You know...nail biting. I think Ghajini had that. The beauty of such movies is that we all know the hero will meet success ultimately but making us wonder how he will do it, taking us through the tension and even making us pray for his success is a director's biggest challenge.

There are a few moments in this movie that made me go "Oh come on". And let me recall..were there any wow moments for me? Yes, the 'group-game' that the hero plays with his batch mates was very well planned out, extremely fast and definitely an edge-of-the-seat moment. At least in recent times I haven't watched a similar scene in Tamil movies. Good job Muruguadoss!

Now to the rest of the cast. The female lead Kajal Agarwal. Female yes but lead, no. Neither does she lead the story nor even the hero anywhere. She is nothing but a pretty prop with an unusual dubbing voice.

Jayaram, an experienced and talented actor again plays a charcter of no significance but for a few mildly funny moments. When the director could indiscriminately get so many fingers chopped, a few of such extra 6th and 7th fingers could have easily been chopped. I am sure this would have lent more brevity and credibility to the story of an Intelligence officer focused on his mission and duty. But then however much intelligent a director might be, he has his commercial limitations too I guess. But I was really disappointed this time around because I thought Muruguadoss was finally one director/writer who allowed the female charcters to take the story in his action movies further - be it Ghajini or 7-am Arivu. Just as a faint connection, the hero's sister contributes just a little bit in Thuppaki. Perhaps she is the only female character who has any importance in the movie even if it is just a 5 min appearance. Similarly all the other characters are just appendages but its still understandable. Why such a treatment for the female lead, especially when you brag about your ideal woman being bold, sporty and 'modern' (whatever that means). Do I smell double standards here? Our leading lady's only mission is to get kissed by her man and she doesn't succeed even in that (sorry for the spoiler here).

Thank God the friend of the hero was played by Satyan and not Mr. Chatterbox 24x7 Santhanam.

The music. The songs are forgettable, except for the catchy Google-google number. I am not against songs in our movies at all. I think that's what sets our Indian movies apart in the scene of world movies. But aren't our movie makers bold enough to do away with 'heroines' and song and dance routines if they don't contribute to the storyline in anyway? Background score has never been Harris Jayaraj's strength.And when are they going to stop using eerie shrieks every time a terrorist or a bad guy is comes on screen. Rahman started it 20 yrs back in Roja and it has stuck on like the ubiquitous mole on a filmy rowdy's cheek. I look forward to the day when someone, someday  will think of something else. Will Rahman or Yuvan or Ilayaraja please contribute?

I must mention here about the lyrics. While watching the movie, I guessed the Google song lyricist must be Madan Karky. Back home, Google told me it was Karky indeed. But then there are two songs which have deliberately (for the sake of a remake?) used Hindi words liberally. Looks like someone has just picked up Hindi words at random and peppered not one but two songs with such nonsense words. One song has a sardarji sitting somewhere close to Mumbai singing a line like "tootak tootak", "balle balle".
And then after a wee bit of a romantic scene, cut to a hilly place in the north-east and a bunch of girls break into a chorus that says "Lo hogayi teri, lo hogayi teri, wah re wah". Lo hogayi teri can translate into mumbayya hindi as "teri to waat lag gayi"!! (Now don't ask me to translate that one.)
The theme music, though 'inspired' by some good Arabic number, sounded quite okay.

Another seemingly obvious thing in this movie is that it is ready to be remade into Hindi. With so many English and Hindi dialogues mouthed, ahem..is Vijay looking towards the north? Tell, tell?

I know its not fair to just diss a movie in the comfort of one's living room. But then I feel saddened. In my opinion both Murugadoss and Vijay are capable of much more. Here's my little wishlist: Though he has been working only on action-movies, I somehow feel Murugadoss might be good at dishing out something romantic with a dash of comedy. The funny moments are actually sweet, simple and decent in his movies I have seen so far and completely free of the comedy track burden. And then, Vijay. I think he did a much better job in Kaavalan and even Nanban. I know someone has to write something really, really different for him.
Mr Vijay, I am sure you can try flexing those facial muscles for a change. Now that you have really worked on your looks and complexion, it might not be difficult at all. Don't worry about your fans. They will like you either way. I am sure you are as brave in real life as in your movies. Come on take the challenge. I know you have now become an expert at fixing your own broken bones as easily as fixing a rubic cube, yet we would love to watch at least one movie of yours without a single dishum-dishum scene.

PS: The 4.5 yr old whose pestering we succumbed to, slid into a peaceful slumber as soon as all the songs were done and the movie got into a serious mode. Mission accomplished!


  1. Hey pp loooong but nice and funny review...did I tell you that one scene was shot outside our old Heritage building? Vijay was supposed to drive a car and an unfamiliar girl was sitting next to him with hardly any make-up on...I suddenly spotted a diminutive murugadoss on the backseat of the car!!!

    1. Thanks! Oh yeah you told me about the shoot! But you didn't tell me Murugadoss was actually sitting in the car. He has a thing for Hiranandani buildings I think. A lot of it was seen in Ghajini and this as well. The girl you saw in the car is the girl who plays his sister.


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