Thuppakki (Tamil)

Genre: Action

Director: A.R. Murugadoss

Cast: Vijay, Vidyut Jamwal, Jayaram, Kajal Agarwal, Sathyan

Storyline: A military officer takes on a terrorist mastermind in a cat-and-a-mouse game to render the group’s sleeper cells redundant

Bottomline: Racy entertainer

The hero as the social angst-driven executioner is nothing new to Tamil cinema. A.R. Murugadoss’ Thuppakki is almost a safe bet after his slightly experimental 7aum Arivu. But credit to him and his team for packaging something racy for the blockbuster-starved film audiences in a year that has been a death-knell for hero-worshipping scripts.

Despite having a popular leading man in Vijay, who has found his box-office mojo in his last two outings, the hero of Thuppakki is the script, which is probably as intelligible as it can get in mainstream cinema. As with other such ‘masala’ films (as they are called popularly), logic takes a backseat and at times completely disappears.

The protagonist is not a vigilante in the true sense, as he is shown to be a secret agent of the Indian Army, but seems to operate like one while covering up brutal murders and indulging in a fair bit of criminal blackmail. He has the mandate, and takes on a terrorist group’s dreaded sleeper cells in a cat-and-mouse game, the highlight of the movie being the chess-game-like moves he plays with the dreaded terrorist mastermind (unnamed character played by Vidyut Jamwal).

Like in his successful Ghajini, Murugadoss employs parallel storylines of contrasting natures. In Ghajini, the narrative kept swinging back and forth between the tale of revenge and the tale of romance. Here too, Jagdish’s hunt for the terrorist leader is contrasted with the levity of his “now-on-now-off” romance with the fiery Nisha (Kajal Agarwal).

Two supporting actors who make an impact are Jayaram (as the hilarious military officer V. Ravichandran) and Sathyan (as the hero’s side-kick sub-inspector Balaji). Jayaram brings the roof down as the military superior who generally is not aware of his surroundings. It is a pity that the actor does not get more substantial roles in Tamil cinema to show off his comic prowess. Sathyan seems to be evolving as an actor who can go beyond just comedy shenanigans if the script allows him to.

Vijay has done his best to appear the part of a hero who combines brain with brawn. The song-and-dance and the stunts sequences bring out the best in him. But in this outing, he has toned down his humour, and rightfully too. Vidyut Jamwal very nearly reprises his role from Billa 2. The actor looks good enough to play the leading man! Kajal Agarwal turns in a performance that is nearly a carbon copy of Asin’s in Ghajini.

Top-notch technicians in cinematographer Santhosh Sivan and editor Sreekar Prasad have shouldered their responsibilities well. The chase sequences shot on location in Mumbai stand out. Music director Harris Jayaraj, though, seems to have had a surprisingly off-time with the songs. The background music is apt though it is significantly reminiscent of several popular scores. Thuppakki is an above average entertainer that seems to shine in contrast in a year where most big projects have come a cropper. Like many filmmakers of his generation, A.R. Murugadoss’ movies seem to be influenced heavily by the contemporary masters, in this case surely Shankar’s cinema.

It would be interesting to see the young director take on something different in future. One can only wonder just how much better Thuppakki would have been if it had done away with the song-and-dance-and-romance and such trappings.

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