When we were young, the adrenalin rush that comes after watching a James Bond film or reading a superhero comic will give birth to a short-lived creator in us. In the next few days, we will daydream our own version of the story we have seen with characters cast from our local setting. Within a few days, we would’ve moved on, but not the celebrated director Karthik Subbaraj. He seems to have remembered a story he had visualised in his childhood and was lucky to have made it into a feature film, Jagame Thandhiram (2021). It was released yesterday on Netflix.
The film is about Suruli (played by Dhanush) a local gang leader in a small town in Tamil Nadu being handpicked by a powerful mafia don in the United Kingdom to eliminate his opponent, a Sri Lankan Tamilian there. How Suruli succeeds in his mission in London and then realising his mistakes takes revenge against the xenophobic group there is the story. If the first half was gangster wars, the second half was a short film on the last days of the Sri Lankan civil war, and a documentary on the sufferings of migrants everywhere. If reading this confuses you, think about the poor writers of IMDB & Wikipedia who had to figure out the genre of this film.
I liked the idea of having a Little Madurai in the middle of London, the art director had created the street nicely, the cobblestones could’ve been authentic though. “Rakita Rakita Rakita” song makes you get up and dance. The heroine Aishwarya Lekshmi had a limited role and was almost forgettable.
My friends warned me about this film, yet I watched it for Dhanush, unwise of me. Dhanush might be feeling the same for doing this film.
The complaint I have about the film is that there was nothing new – every character was familiar and every scene predictable. Had the film been edited tighter and been released half a century before, it might have worked.
I want to ask Dhanush, why, why? In your earlier gangster films like Maari or Vada Chennai, you have established your own style which was enjoyable, then why do you want to imitate the superstar Rajnikanth for this role? If you watch the film, you will get similar questions about the screenplay, if you do, then read the first paragraph of this post and you will get your answers.