The 2021 film ‘Jagame Thandiram’ written and directed by Karthik Subbaraj starts on an exaggerated but fun note – a white dude is murdered by a Tamil-speaking gang in London. The victim is related to a racist British Tycoon who drives a car that has ‘White Power’ written on the number plate.
Hollywood actor James Cosmo plays Peter Sprott, the primary antagonist of the story, a xenophobe who flies in a notorious Tamil goon from India to take on his Tamil rivals in London. Enter Suruli, played by Dhanush, an amoral carefree gangster who’ll do anything if he paid the right price. What follows is an entertaining clash of rival gangs. A London-based software engineer Vicky (Sarath Ravi) acts as Suruli’s translator and the banter between the two polar-opposite personalities provide ample laughs in the first half.
Everything was interesting until Peter Sprott has a confrontation with bossman of the rival group called Sivadoss (Joju George). There is a very irritating sequence, where the two men are sitting across each other, and the camera keeps rotating a full circle to show them both a few times. It makes the viewer dizzy and adds no value to the screenplay. From there on, even the script goes downhill and gets tedious.
The first-half lulls you into believing that this is just a fun action movie, with silly jokes and a typical ‘love at first sight’ romance. But what could’ve been an enjoyable flick, turns into a slow political saga about immigrants facing hostility in foreign lands. From a money-minded clever criminal, Suruli becomes a preachy-soppy guy who now has a better motive in life than just gaining quick bucks out of murdering people. The change is motivated by ‘love’, but felt completely insincere because Aishwarya Lekshmi who plays Atilla, Suruli’s girlfriend, barely gets any screen time. A tragic flashback to her own past as a Sri-Lankan Tamil seemed like a blatant attempt to gain some emotional brownie points from viewers. But it just doesn’t work. A dramatic mom is thrown out of nowhere, to pull in some tears too.
Interestingly, I was watching the film with three Tamilians and they were all on their phones by the second-half (mine was on charge). Karthik Subbaraj could’ve wrapped up this movie one hour early, but drags on the story for too long, with predictable twists. To his credit, the climax scene was quite hilarious, almost like poetic justice, but the dull hour preceding it just cannot wash over the viewer’s disappointment with the poor story-telling.
The background music was upbeat and peppy, and the director’s decision to mix old and popular songs along the storyline work well. Dhanush is very Rajinikanth-like in his acting, aping a lot of mannerisms of the super-star and is able to pull it off with the same confident swagger. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the script. It’s a 5/10 from me.
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