Jigarthanda review: Staying true to the original

June 25, 2016 04:39 pm | Updated October 18, 2016 12:34 pm IST - Bengaluru

 Karnataka : Bengaluru , 24/06/2016 . A still from the film Jigar Thanda

Karnataka : Bengaluru , 24/06/2016 . A still from the film Jigar Thanda

Jigarthanda (Kannada)

Director: Shivaganesh

Cast: Ravishankar, Rahul, Samyuktha Belawadi, Chikkanna, Sadhu Kokila, Dattanna

We knew that Shivaganesh’s Jigarthanda is a remake of Karthik Subbaraj’s Tamil blockbuster by the same name, released in 2014. Nevertheless, it is quite uncanny how much the film resembles the original.

Jigarthanda is a story of a young filmmaker Rahul (Rahul) who decides to study a well-known gangster Arumuga (Ravishankar) in order to write a script for his debut gangster thriller.

Shivaganesh’s version is a frame-to-frame replica of the original, dialogues are translations (including some of the jokes), and even the editing rhythm tries its best to maintain that impatient quality that Subbaraj’s film had.

Yes, instead of Madurai, it is Rudrapura in the Kannada version and it is not ‘Assault’ Sethu but ‘Assault’ Arumuga here. So, for those who have seen the original, watching Shivaganesh’s Jigarthanda is like playing a ‘spot the differences’ game and there is not much to pick out.

That the filmmaker chose to privilege fidelity to the original over everything else is not a fault, of course. In fact, it is a film that has been remade rather well. It could be a case study in how to get even the finest of details right.

But when the inevitable comparisons are made, one of the first aspects that comes up for discussion is Ravishankar’s performance. Stepping into the shoes of Bobby Simhaa, the actor who played the gangster in the Tamil version, was not going to be easy. Simhaa was eccentric, yet subtle — each quality serving to heighten the other.

Further, the character of Arumuga/Sethu is unique and unlike the other villains that Ravishankar has played so far. However, during the course of the film, it becomes rather evident that Ravishankar finds it difficult to shed the ghosts of the previous villains he has played and make Arumuga actually different. To add to it, the melodramatic tinge in his performances robs Arumuga of nuance, complexity and the much needed, subtlety too. So Ravishankar’s Arumuga becomes a caricatured version of Sethu.

Conversely, Rahul tries too hard to resemble Siddharth (who played the filmmaker in the original). There are parts in which he even begins to look like Siddharth. But in the role of a debut filmmaker, whose moral compass does not believe in taking any sides, Rahul does a decent job.

One wishes that Shivaganesh had actually tweaked a bit of the original to make room for more screen space for Lakshmi (Samyukta). Hers is an interesting character, one that rises from the regular damsels in distress. Like in the original, here too the film’s transformation in tone — from serious to comic — is a bit stark and unnerving. This too could have been smoothened a bit.

Shivaganesh’s Jigarthanda aspires rather obviously to be as entertaining as its original. If not for the melodrama, it would have been. Instead, it is an okay, almost there version.

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