Tamil Nadu

A good start, but could have been better

8 Thottakkal opens in black and white. A young boy has witnessed a murder. That’s quite convenient for the killer, who ensures that the child is put behind bars of a juvenile prison.

When light breaks out on the big screen, all the colour’s gone on the face of young Sathya, who is standing in a line of young prisoners. He’s afraid. He is, after all, in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s frightened when someone asks him if he wants to become a policeman in the future. ‘Police velai ah? Vendam,’ (I’d never become a cop) he shrieks. That’s exactly what he becomes, many years later. At the West Mambalam police station, Sathya (Vetri) is a sort of a loner, a do-gooder who minds his own business. When someone’s complaint is unheeded, he helps. He’s the good guy in bad company.

And bad things come to good guys too, we learn in a bit, when Sathya loses his official weapon — something he’s signed for in the police station. It’s a Bruni with eight bullets, and it’s out there in a big city. The gun ends up in the hands of a gang of like-minded men in pursuit of big bucks. The basic storyline of 8 Thotattakkal is straight out of the pages of a crime thriller.

It’s a script that’s surely the result of some serious brain-work on the part of director Sri Ganesh, who’s not far behind the rich crop of promising debut filmmakers we’ve had in recent times (Karthik Naren and Lokesh Kanagaraj with Dhruvangal 16 and Maanagaram respectively). There’s promise in the writing, thought in the execution. I loved the way we learn about the back- stories of the three characters (Murthy, Kathir and Jai) and why they needed the money so desperately.

There are three wonderful little tales – of a man who’s ignored by his family, of a man who’s having an affair, of a man who wants to get his sister married. Different social backgrounds but the same goal: money.

The one who stands out is M.S.Bhaskar, who’s terrific as Krishnamoorthy. In one of his best roles so far, Bhaskar scores big time – dominating and quivering as and when the need arises. Nasser is in good form, and so are Manikandan and Lallu. But the same cannot be said of Vetri. He certainly looks the part, but is hardly convincing as someone who’s under immense duress. It certainly doesn’t help that the director saddles on him a love interest (Aparna Balamurali) and throws in a few songs that have absolutely no relevance to the scheme of things.

There are also some places I found 8 Thottakkal rather conversational, rather dialogue-y… things that have no business in a thriller. Had those been trimmed, it would have surely found its way to the recent debut-director- strikes-big league occupied by the makers of Dhruvangal 16 and Maanagaram.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 3:15:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/a-good-start-but-could-have-been-better/article17856911.ece

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