'Etharkkum Thunindhavan' movie review: Suriya's well-intentioned family film is jaded

The Suriya-Pandiraj film is a random assortment of song, dance, sentiment and serious issues

Published - March 10, 2022 03:51 pm IST

Suriya in a still from ‘Etharkkum Thunindhavan’

Suriya in a still from ‘Etharkkum Thunindhavan’ | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

You might have heard of many unique gifts that a man gives a woman that he likes the first time they meet. But check out this one in Etharkkum Thunindhavan (ET), Suriya's latest film in the theatres. Kannabiran (Suriya) likes a girl (Aadhini, played by Priyanka Mohan), and in their initial meetings, gives her a 'gift': he downloads the Kavalan SOS app on her phone (Tamil Nadu Police Department's initiative for emergency situations).

He tells her and her friend. "This is more important that the other apps like Instagram and TikTok."

There, in that one dialogue, Suriya underlines what he intends to do with ET. The intention is honourable, no doubt, but the film is a random assortment of song, dance, sentiment and serious issues - all packed in a 150-minute-plus run-time.

Suriya plays Kannabiran, a lawyer yet again here, after his previous acclaimed OTT release Jai Bhim. But this isn't a courtoom drama, so his time in court is quite limited. Instead, Kannabiran prefers spending time at home, trying 'cutesy' moments with his parents, and attending the many thiruvizhas in town. The milieu, which director Pandiraj gets right in most of his films, is also refreshing here: the protagonist hails from Thennaadu, a place that celebrates women. Trouble starts when a girl calls Kannabiran to meet him urgently, but passes away minutes later. What happened to her? Who are the people behind her death?

Etharkkum Thunindhavan
Cast: Suriya, Sathyaraj, Vinay, Priyanka Mohan
Director: Pandiraj
Storyline: A lawyer takes on a powerful man who threatens women

And so, from a very mundane first half that goes nowhere, we get into the women's empowerment zone. Dialogues that would have found their way into any Samuthirakani film sneak in here. On paper, they're noble. On the big screen, they just don't connect. Which is rather surprising considering that director Pandiraj's previous offering, Namma Veetu Pillai, managed to pack in many commercial elements into a single film.

Suriya in Etharkkum Thunindhavan

Suriya in Etharkkum Thunindhavan | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The mostly annoying duets that the film world largely dispensed off after the OTT universe held forte among audiences make a comeback. Composer Imman is in charge of music, and ET is a dip in form, considering the rousing scores and melodies he has churned out in recent times.

The combination of Sathyaraj and Suriya, for the first time on the big screen, is charming no doubt, but there's little that comes out of those sequences. While Saranya breezes through the mother's role, Priyanka Mohan gets just one solid sequence. Vinay, who impressed in Sivakarthikeyan's Doctor, gets another similar role but doens't have much to do beyond appearing on screen with villanous laughs. The final face-off has little sparkle. The comedy has little flavour. And the edit seems to have been done in a tearing hurry.

Suriya was among the few Tamil actors who had a fruitful couple of years despite the challenge posed by the pandemic. Both Soorarai Pottru andJai Bhim took the OTT route, and fetched him a lot of acclaim. The decision to get back to theatres with a commercial mass film was right. But, the treatment wasn't.

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