For a country that takes pride in never invading or usurping foreign land after independence, our films ironically, do take water bodies for granted. After Duraisingam established that “Indians are the Kings of the Indian Ocean” at the end of Singam 2, we’ve now got Agilan, who claims to be the one true king. Only if film universes could collide and our universal cop and smuggling king can have a face-off refereed by the king of Atlantis, Aquaman!
We’ve rarely had films with the ocean as its backdrop that aren’t based on the trials and tribulations of fisherfolk. Throw in a port employee who wants to rule the maritime transport’s underworld, the one-liner seems to be a fantastic idea. But Jayam Ravi’s Agilan, despite being set in a milieu that is brimming with opportunities for something unique, ends up retelling the tried and tested ‘I’ll finish the good deeds my father started’ trope. Watching Agilan is the equivalent of being thrown into the middle of choppy waters — you’re trying to keep yourself conscious but wave after wave of randomness keeps hitting you, tiring you to even hope for some respite. Agilan (Jayam Ravi) does the dirty job for Paranthaman (Hareesh Peradi), only to later bypass him to get the attention of Kapoor (Tharun Arora), the illegal operation’s kingpin.
Why the thirst to be on the wrong side of the law? Agilan’s got a flashback that involves the death of innocent lives because, spoiler alert: his father gets conned. So what does he want? A ship! In this KGF-meets-Citizen film, nothing really makes sense after a while. Before we can even ask how something illegal can happen so blatantly — it’s an open secret for those working across the port — we’re introduced to Agilan’s girlfriend Mathavi (Priya Bhavani Shankar) who is the cop managing the port area. Isn’t there a single official who is honest? We’ve got Gokul (Chirag Jani), a Central intelligence officer, who, as expected, gets taken for a ride by our protagonist.
Just a little googling tells us that ships cost quite a few million even if it’s in the worst shape possible. But our Agilan can buy one thanks to his smuggling endeavours. They even name it Tamizhannai, in Tamil. As much as we love our Tamil, I highly doubt it’s even allowed to have a ship’s name written in a regional language. Imagine boarding the wrong flight to a different country because the airline decides to name their carrier in their own language. In one scene, Agilan goes to the middle of the ocean with a small motorboat that miraculously changes into a boat with extra props the very next scene. Despite his enemy lurking nearby in a different boat, given there’s no cover to take in the open ocean, Agilan still goes on with his operation. Just looking around would have shown him that he is being followed. But these logical issues are the least of Agilan’s worries given how the film leaves a number of questions unanswered.
The film, at regular intervals, throws us curve balls in the form of nuggets of information or interesting subplots. “Right from the price of onions to stock prices, everything is determined by sea traffic,” quips Agilan while pointing out the influence of freight transport. Only when we think this trivia might lead to something bigger, it dissolves into nothing like salt thrown into the water. The film also touches upon several crimes such as human trafficking, drugs, maritime piracy and arms smuggling. But these plots remain at the surface level like the ships they are bootlegged by. Agilan also suffers from lipsync issues. The background score is also agonizingly loud.
A look at Jayam Ravi’s filmography points out something fascinating. Whenever the film’s title is also the name of his character, it either ends up as a resounding hit or a colossal dud. For every M. Kumaran Son of Mahalakshmi, Santhosh Subramaniyam and Ponniyin Selvan, he’s also got an Aadhi Bhagavan, Bhooloham and Bhoomi, and unfortunately, Agilan will join the latter. Despite Ravi carrying the film on his able shoulders all by himself, Agilan goes nowhere and is as futile as an anchored ship.
Agilan is currently running in theatres