Every once in a while, comes a Tamil film that makes you apologise for judging it by its trailer, that surprises you by transcending its genre, that makes you wish it never got over, that you would like to rewatch multiple times, and one that makes you feel vindicated about missing breakfast to come to watch it. Ponram’s DSP, however, makes you want to take out your phone and read work emails. Here are three reasons why work emails are better than DSP:
- You don’t have to sit through them for close to three hours and wonder what was the point of this whole exercise.
- You aren’t subjected to spurts of blaring background music by D Imman that could cause mild headaches.
- Well, you at least get paid to read them.
The film’s trailer didn’t promise us some experimental, hard-hitting police drama that sought to challenge the system. So, one was ready to overlook the problematic elements — like the depiction of custodial violence — that usually come added with a ‘massy’ Tamil cop film. Apart from suspending disbelief, these films expect us to suspend some sensitivity too.
But let’s not crib about the lack of political correctness here. One was just expecting DSP to be in the zone of Vijay Sethupathi’s earlier cop film Sethupathi, which was decently entertaining. Ponram, too, intends the film to be in that zone. The opening scene proves that. A thug, sitting in his lair, guffaws at the TV news, which informs that he’s been hiding from the police for a while. Looking at the bloody face of a badly bashed-up cop, he tells his minions, “I cannot be caught by someone who is merely made of flesh and bones. A guy needs to have fire coursing through his veins to catch me.” Just as he finishes uttering those lines, he hears a loud thud that cracks the wall of the fishing boat he is in. Outside, our moustachioed man, drenched in rain, stands with a sledgehammer in his hands.
We all know that the hero will bash up the bad guys. But it’s up to the filmmaker to show us novel and interesting ways of him doing it. Instead of hair-rising moments, the action sequences evoke the lethargy of a lazy Sunday afternoon. It doesn’t help that Sethupathi also seems to sleepwalk through these scenes. He doesn’t look agile enough to conquer the bad guys. Sethupathi’s stone face – stoic and impassive – works beautifully on many occasions. But sometimes, you get a feeling he stretches it too far. In this film, it just feels lazy. He lacks the charisma of a cop in an action movie.
The antagonist, too, is cliched. He is just a big, loud, power-hungry guy (with a ridiculous epithet, of course). This film’s bad guy is called ‘Mutta’ Ravi because he sells… (email your answers to this writer and stand a chance to win nothing).
Ponram takes half the film to even establish the conflict, which is weaker than the falling Indian rupee. In between, he fills us in with some supposedly cute romantic sequences with Anukreethy Vas, some supposedly funny sequences with Pugazh, and supposedly sentimental family sequences with Ilavarasu and the rest of the cast. None of these things makes you feel. You don’t care whether a character dies or lives.
There is an unexpected twist in the climactic battle between the hero and the villain, where they take… a tea break. It kind of snaps you out of the movie’s monotony. Apart from this, the only other noteworthy thing is the hero’s name: Vasco da Gama.
While the Portuguese voyager of the same name set sails for unexplored territories, with this Vasco da Gama, you head right into the land of cliches.
DSP is currently running in theatres