Kamal Haasan’s ‘Thoongavanam’!

2015 proved to be a great year for Kamal fans and we had 3 films being released during the year. ‘Uttama Villain’ was much awaited and turned out to be a classy piece – possibly showcasing what the actor wanted to say about his long journey towards superstardom.

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Kamal and Trisha lock their fistcuffs in Thoongavanam                                                                                       Image Courtesy – Indiaglitz.com

Papanasam was brilliant and Kamal, the actor, took to the forefront. It was an unqualified commercial success as well. Well it raised the hopes for the thriller, ‘Thoongavanam’, though the movie turned out to be a mixed bag at the box-office.

Remake of a French thriller, ‘Sleepless Night’, Kamal once again plays the role of a cop. But there is a vital difference – it no longer a macho cop (even his last cop venture ‘Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu’ was one), instead we find a grey character caught in a web of lies and deceit. Cross, Double Cross and Triple Cross – it all seems to happen as everyone chases a bag of cocaine.

Yugi Sethu has a delightful cameo but it all becomes predictable – for some reason the director chooses to show all his cards to the viewer so we don’t quite much in terms of a thriller. Even the few neat twists n turns turn up as a matter-of-course and we are not waiting for a ‘nail-biting’ finish. (So very unlike ‘Papanasam’ where the climax was built up in a perfect manner.)

Trisha is shown to be a tough cop with the right attitude – her fight with Kamal is a good sequence to watch. Yet she does fairly stupid things at the end. No sensible cop will call and alert the villain travelling in the car that she has discovered him. Guess certain elements for ‘mass’ consumption are unavoidable.

Prakash Raj as a suave villain is a sure shot winner – unfortunately he doesn’t quite get to dominate the scene as usual. Sampath plays a fellow criminal and steals his thunder as does Kishore, the bad cop.

Following up on the theme in ‘Uttama Villain’, Kamal shows a strained but affectionate relationship with his son. The son, unlike UT, understands this well and is very mature in managing his equation with his father and mother (Asha Sarath) who are divorced. Smart kid who still falls for a trap in the movie where the bad guys con him into calling Kamal.

Kamal also builds in quite a few meta-references – a producer grumbling due to protests derailing the release of his movie and causing him financial loss,  opening sequence with his son – soya milk, washed omelette, cricket v/s football etc.

The entire movie is shot in one claustrophobic night at a nightclub – Insomnia and the scene setting is credible. The ‘maida-maavu’ switcheroo is a neat trick inspired by true desperation. Kamal appears to be a grey character and this trick works for a while as we try to understand him. But the climax is forestalled and doesn’t rise to a true crescendo as it should. Kamal makes things real in many ways – he is not at all macho, he sits and cries in desperation for not being able to rescue his son, he gets bashed up by an unknown side character, his ‘damsel-in-distress’ rescue act defies all ‘mass’ scene set-ups.

He keeps up a few laughs on the romantic side – a sudden smooch is woven in with a very cute nurse, his phone exchanges with his ex-wife seem to suggest that he still loves her though he doesn’t measure up to her exacting standards of rectitude and morality, but the cutest touch is the exit line in the movie. Kamal is injured in the battle and so is hospitalized. Quickly we note that he attracts the affection of Trisha and Madhu Shalini who want to ‘look after’ him. His son, the smart aleck, quickly relays the information to Asha Sarath whom we can expect to make a quick dash to the scene of action.

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