Last week I watched Kshanam which was an impressive watch until it failed towards the end. This week it was Thani Oruvan of which I was hearing great things for a long time. Let me start by saying this. Thani Oruvan is a film which builds up as a very cliché and over excited vigilante action film but within 15 – 20 minutes of its start, the film takes one of the biggest U-turns that I have seen in the predictable world of South Indian cinema in recent times. I was literally blown off my seat by the sheer power and gusto that the film oozes from scene to scene as it gets stronger and stronger steamrolling through its narrative.
The story revolves around Mithran (Ilampuyal ‘Jairam’ Ravi) a man of high values who is training to become and IPS officer. He sneaks out now and then with his friends and does social service by acting as Vigilantes. He has a sweet girl Mahima played by Nayanthara who he is in love with but doesn’t disclose. In a fateful encounter, a criminal that Mithran and his friends had caught before, attends a prestigious function at their institute making them question Mithran and their own actions. It is then that Mithran explains his elaborate plans and his desire to find that one man who is behind all the organized crimes in the city. Soon Mithran comes face to face with his adversary Siddhartha Abhimanyu (Arvind Swamy) who is not only a super class criminal but one of the most cunning and ruthless enemies that Mithran could have expected.
After the somewhat predictable and jingoistic first 15-20 minutes, the film really takes off. Suffice is to say that the introduction of Arvind Swamy kick starts the best part of the film. I will dwell on that a bit later. This is an extremely well made film. I mean it visually and artistically. The film is well shot and even better edited. There is a lot of dialog and exposition sequences but they feel breezy thanks to the way in which the film is presented. There is always something interesting happening on screen as the dialogs work as expositions. The action sequences are crisply edited and they are at many times gruesome. You don’t get these kinds of sequences too frequently in Indian films but that’s how it is here. The story is captivating and you constantly keep thinking how the men will outsmart each other and more than that you ask yourself who will outsmart who.
The film is stylized to suit the mood of the narrative and it also boats of a great background score. Coming to the performances, Arvind Swamy is easily the highlight of the film. His suave act is totally in line with the kind of villain that he portrays. What’s shocking are the parts where he goes bludgeoning people without any consideration or pity. These parts seem shockingly out of context for a man who is so smooth, literate and almost perfect. That’s what adds a swagger to his act. Ilampuyal ‘Jairam’ Ravi is great. He looks the part and acts his heart out but for most of the part has to play second fiddle to Swamy’s spirited act. It’s not his performances but just the way the characters are written. He has a meatier role but Swamy has more style and Panache. Nayanthara looks pretty and does what she does best. This isn’t the sort of film where she could have made a mark and she doesn’t. No complains about that. What I liked about this film was its ability to interweave matters that we come across on a day to day basis and show them to be a part of a larger conspiracy. In doing so the film successfully makes us and our sensibilities a part of its narrative and lets us extract a lot more out of it. The scripted set pieces become relevant and even the fiction for a while feels real and captivating.
On the flip side, the film has its share of unnecessary and plain torturous songs. It does go overboard a few times but that I believe we have to take in our stride considering the fact that it is a wholesome entertainer after all. Thani Oruvan is a superb entertainer. At its heart it has a social issue which we all are a part off and that makes the film that much more appealing and engrossing to us. The sparkling performances, the edge of the seat thrills and the fact that the film is so well made makes it a must watch.
Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)