Reviews

Rajathandhiram: An indigenous heist film with moral toppings

A still from Rajathandhiram.

A still from Rajathandhiram.

What many have called a disastrous and a suicidal weekend at the box office (at least 13 movies have released on March 13), has thrown up a gem of a heist film. A.G. Amid’s  Rajathandhiram , out this Friday, is a finely-narrated heist film. The comparisons with the recent sleeper hit,  Sadhurangavettai,  cannot be avoided, especially with respect to voluntary reformation of hardened criminals, but that is where the similarities end. 

It is a standard genre picture about how small time conmen manage to do a big job. But, that’s what is so refreshing about the film: it sticks to the premise all the way down. Unlike  Sadhurangavettai, Rajathandhiram  doesn’t explore the indigenous cheating methods prevalent in Tamil Nadu: conmen are not exploiting gullible people. It is more universal: they attempt to rob a jewellery store. The film is about three small time crooks, Arjun (Veera), Austin (Darbuka Siva) and Devaraj (Ajai), who prefer doing small jobs and staying out of trouble. They steal a bike here and an iPhone there to remain afloat, but never overdo it. This rule is enforced by Arjun, who is also the smartest one amongst the lot. As it always happens, Arjun falls in love with Michelle (Regina Cassandra) who is in a financial debt and decides to help her. He is inadvertently sucked into a much bigger heist plan, hatched by Dharma, a convict who has siphoned off money as the owner of a finance company.

Genre: Heist thriller Director: A.G. Amid Cast: Veera, Darbuka Siva, Ajai Storyline: Three small time crooks inadvertently get sucked into a dangerous plan hatched by another convict Bottomline: Worth the time and money
Rajathandhiram 

However, the ‘sophistication’ in the film lies not in hacking of traffic signals or the use of hi-tech gadgets, but in the manner in which the film cons the audience itself.

Isn’t that the fun part of any con film?  It is not about just seeing the elites being brought down by the poor working class, but also in how the audience are being ‘conned’ by the narrative itself. In a sense, all heist films are inherently about class antagonisms in the society. The most enjoyable segment of this film — as indeed is the case for any con film — is the pre-climax: the point where the master plan unravels with the final ‘pulling of the rug’ beneath the feet of the audience itself. In this film, it works like magic.

Hollywood heist movies — especially the Ocean’s series — have imposed an unrealistic convention for all movies made in this genre and one can’t help thinking that this film lacks the charisma and suavity.  To be fair, though, Veera and his friends, Darbuka Siva and Ajai, play their roles of working class, small time criminals very well.  But, when the characters need to appear as suave, intelligent and sophisticated criminals (despite their lower middle class backgrounds), they only come across as incredibly lucky hippies. If forced to point out the only other oddity in an otherwise engaging film, it would be the forced ‘moral’ angle of the film. Just when we thought Ajith Kumar’s  Mankatha  had done away with the need to reform, the filmmakers are still obsessed (this was the case with  Sadhurangavettai  as well) with rehabilitating the film’s ‘bad’ characters. Don’t we have examples in this country where criminals walk away free? Other than that,  Rajathandhiram  is a film worth its time and the ticket price.  


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2022 1:32:34 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/rajathandhiram-an-indigenous-heist-film-with-moral-toppings/article6989991.ece