Latest About: Thondan movie review: A big basket of moral lectures
Thondan movie review: A big basket of moral lectures
Thondan Movie Review
Thondan: Duty and the beast
Cast: Samuthirakani, Sunaina
If you’re a parent, Thondan’s what you want your kids to see. Every storyline is an opportunity for a moral lecture, and every dialogue an excuse to dole out ethical advice. Paavathin sambalam maranam. Mannipadhe dhandanai. Vanmurai edharkum badhil alla. There are references to Gandhi, Thiruvalluvar, Abdul Kalam. Tagging along are the half-a-dozen Thirukkural couplets that a corrupt minister uses at various times in the film. If your kids find your patronising advice hateful, make them watch Thondan. That will show them. The protagonist of the film, played by Samuthirakani, conveys disgust at stalking; he preaches against violence; he promotes doing good; he argues against women treating men as puppets… If this film works for you, make no mistake, you’re walking out a saint.
But mind you, it’s not all bad. Despite being the pamphlet film that it is, Samuthirakani brings to the ‘genre’ a certain infectious sincerity in writing and performance… at least insofar as the serious bits are concerned. He plays an ambulance driver called Vishnu who has saved 1,362 lives. And Vishnu, as you know, is the protector—saviour if you will—in Hindu mythology. One of his friends is named Vaikuntam. All daughters born in his ambulance generally get named Vishnupriya. The film is layered like that. In one scene, Vishnu, a chronic do-gooder, motivates his friend to be like him. I liked the line he uses: “Nalladhu panni paaru. Adhu oru bodhai.” There are similar decent punchlines in the film that are quite effective. In another scene, while lamenting the behaviour of stalkers, he provides a spin on the expression, ‘Oru thalai kaadhal’, and calls it, “Oru thalai kaamam”. And for once, a hero who claims to be against violence from the beginning isn’t just saving all his rage for one explosive fight scene (Baasha anybody?). Till the end, he remains as sedate, and even when he threatens to lose it, he gathers himself quickly.
But these effective portions aren’t as many as you’d like. Towards the end, in fact, he gets quite carried away when on an unrelated monologue over the importance of jallikattu, and goes on to recite all the names of the native cattle breeds for an interminably long period of time. The politicians he’s talking to patiently wait for him to finish the gimmick, as he pauses every once in a while and resumes his recital. But I suppose at least this is more amusing than the film’s plot which is replete with coincidences.
Worst of all is the comedy-romance track which seems to be inspired by a Vadivelu track in yesteryear film, Maayi. It’s supposed to be funny that the heroine in disguise scampers across the neighbourhood at great speed, but it only motivates you to do the same from the theatre. It takes a Soori to eventually lend some comic respectability to the proceedings, and makes you wonder if Samuthirakani would end up making more entertaining films, if only he didn’t take the mantle of moral teaching upon himself. But in its present form, Thondan is what you feared would happen once Appa did as well as it did.
Thondan Movie Review
THONDAN REVIEW: Thondan opens with a scene in which some men violently attack an unarmed man in public and leave him fighting for life. And this happens right in front of a Gandhi statue! In case we don’t get the irony, the scene begins and ends with a shot of this statue. Subtlety, clearly, isn’t Samuthirakani’s forte. He doesn’t make a movie, but takes a class.
Here, he tells us to empower ourselves and take care of our problems without seeking the help of the police every time, respect women, save farmers, put service to home before nation, save lives, ignore caste, and make note of the failures of our politicians.
Samuthirakani plays Mahavishnu, a conscientious ambulance driver who is proud that he has saved the life of every victim who he has taken to the hospital in his ambulance. And he calls the ambulance his mother and describes doing good as intoxicating. He rubs Manthiri Narayanan (Namo Narayanan), a local heavyweight and the son of a minister, the wrong way by saving the man who was attacked in the film’s opening scene.
To make matters worse, Narayanan’s brother, Chinna Pandi (Soundararajan), who attacks a girl in her college, dies after being attacked by her classmates. And the girl who instigated the attack is Vishnu’s sister (Arthana), and the ambulance that carried the injured guy to the hospital is Vishnu’s. Narayanan wants to avenge his brother’s death by destroying Vishnu’s family. How does the pacifist Vishnu retaliate?