Despite the theme being a bloody feud, it is to the credit of first-time director Gaurav that he's not made it intolerably violent. Romance is appreciably handled and even the so-called dance number is not in any way crude. (Madhumitha, the heroine you last saw in Yogi, making a brief single-song appearance is surprising.) Kudos to the dance choreographer of the sequence sans suggestive gestures! Thus the U certificate for Thoonga Nagaram is justified.

Another quartet from Madurai stomps the screen in Thoonga Nagaram. But this time the foundation of friendship is not too strong. One doesn't mind killing the other to ensure the safety of his family — at least three of the four are so.

It's hero Vimal's third film and once again he's at home in the small town, southern-city setting. Underplay is Vimal's plus, if you can forget his blank look when he learns that his friends had been scheming behind his back.

Anjali is a natural as always and Bharani is another familiar face that's becoming synonymous with out-of-Chennai stories. He proves a right choice.

Yet, if the film doesn't impact much, it's because the characterisation of the main characters is flawed. When threatened by the villain, the three friends of the hero don't mind killing him! Confession comes much later, only after their machinations fail! For all that, they are sincere to him till then and so you logically expect them to warn the hero of the danger that awaits him. Only Mariappan (Nishanth), the speech-impaired friend in the group, reveals some conscience. The other friend Rajamani (director Gaurav has played the role himself) is shown as a callous-guy-turned-good-friend. So his volte-face again is confusing!

Kannan's (Vimal) reaction to his friends' betrayal is a complete let-down. The man could have been killed if the friends had succeeded in their attempts, but he doesn't seem perturbed in the least when he gets to know the truth!

Certain sequences are thrillingly shot, but Gaurav's screenplay is slightly lethargic and many significant matters happen in near darkness. Hence slowness and ambiguity mar the tempo.

Santhanam's authentic art work needs mention.

It's rather unfair to snatch Chandrababu's evergreen piece ‘Kalyanam …' in bits and pieces in the name of re-mix. Surely composer Sundar C. Babu has more originality!

Thoonga Nagaram has a sprinkling of comedy — but one that doesn't tickle much. But thankfully, Gaurav has not made the track long-winding.

A fairly sincere attempt from Gaurav — you understand his intention to bring an un-guessable twist to the tale in the final few minutes — only that, in the process he has allowed room for gaping loopholes.

Thoonga Nagaram

Genre: Action

Director: Gaurav

Cast: Vimal, Anjali, Bharani, Nishanth, Gaurav

Storyline: Once personal life is in jeopardy, three close ‘friends' don't think twice about killing the fourth …

Bottomline: Where roles and reactions leave you confused!