From childhood he has grown up in trains and train stations; now the young man Poochiyappan (Dhanush) is a pantry car server in an express train from Delhi to Chennai. His boss is the pantry manager (Thambi Ramaiah) and his coworkers include an aspiring poet (Karunakaran). On this trip Poochi meets Saroja (Keerthy Suresh) who is a touch-up assistant to a popular heroine traveling in the first class AC compartment; it’s love at first sight for Poochi. This is all that happens in the first 30 minutes and we see some comedy by Thambi Ramaiah and a forgettable song in train rooftop – as if to remind us the title Thodari (தொடரி) which means train. In the same compartment travels an union cabinet minister (Radha Ravi), not even MPs travel in trains nowadays having free flight tickets but we will discount it for now; he is guarded by two commandos. Poochi gets into a conflict with the first commando who seems to be taking medicines for his mental illness. When we thought we are getting the hang of the plot, it keeps continuing.
We see an elderly engine driver (R.V.Udayakumar) who has managed not to have any black marks in his long career and this is his last trip. His assistant driver (Bose Venkat) is being careless and drinking during duty. In another compartment there is a gang of robbers along with local police guarding them. From here the plot turns out to be one of a lifeless imitation of Denzel Washington starring Unstoppable (2010). In between we see potshots at TV channels being focused only on their ratings, unqualified politicians making a joke of themselves and a clueless defence force trying to do something which we are unable to understand. Individually few of the scenes and dialogues are enjoyable but the disconnected nature of each soften their impact.
The action scenes of saving the 750 lives in the recklessly running train may have been more captivating had it come much earlier in the nearly 3 hour running time film. In Kollywood cinema heroic deeds are limited to the male hero, so when Saroja enters the engine cabin and pulls the brake I rejoiced and was ready to forget the drag all along; unfortunately it was short lived as the film continues for another 20 minutes with Poochi doing the daredevil action to save everyone. Just like in the climax sequence in his previous film Kayal where the director turned to computer graphics to show a tsunami and leaving out good story telling, he has done the same in this film too.
Camera by Vetrivel Mahendran brings out the vivid colours of the green landscape and he gives us a feel of traveling along Poochi and Saroja in the train. The set showing Chennai Central has come out well. Music by D.Imman reminds us of earlier films he did with the same Director. Thodari is not a bad film but a long film, as audience we probably have placed unattainable expectations on the Director (Prabhu Solomon) who gave us Kumki and Kayal.