Director: Kartik Subaraj
Starring: Danush, Aishwarya Lekshmi, George George, James Cosmo, Kalayarasan
Back when Jigartanda came out, almost seven years ago, the cinema in Tamil was a completely different place. The Internet was slower and more expensive, Netflix hadn’t entered our markets, and we were just familiar with our first group of directors who graduated from the University of Tarantino with a master’s degree in style and disrespect from Guy Ritchie’s school. Most of us had already seen gangsters (and movies) behave this way, but never in a Madurai setting. So when Assault Sethu uses a bloody sword to cut his birthday cake, or when Rolex Rawther (Jill Jung Juk) literally exhausted the “time”, we were seduced by the novelty of Tamil sensitivity, mixed with a loan, but still an attractive style of filmmaking and visual language.
In the opening minutes of Jagame Tandhiramas lines from Illaiyaraaja’s Kalyana Maalai bounce off the streets of London, you feel it’s finally time for these directors to take back the streets where their style was born. Or maybe even try the opposite by replacing her sickle veti the world of Madurai crime on a chic and beautiful London setting with flying Tata Sumos and a mustache on the handlebars. In plain English, it is like flooding the Thames with water from Tamirabharani. That’s crushing, isn’t it?
But when this thought experiment takes place in front of us, it doesn’t turn into the movie you think it would. The style gets too much in your face, paving the way for comparisons that reveal the true excitement of movies like Grabbing and Two Smoking Barrels. Wwithout the help of the admiring aesthetics of Kartik Subaraj, we are left with the difficult task of focusing on performances, writing, and politics to keep the film alive.
For starters, there’s a reason Tarantino, Richie, and Cohen’s films can’t accept giant emotional flashbacks dealing with busy world issues. The terrain itself is hyper-stylized, and the processing floats above reality, so it’s just so smooth that the film can accommodate both a strong and a nice leading person. and a drastic change that requires him to become serious and too stupid. This means that there is a large part right in the center of Jagame Tandhiram this is devoid of the charisma in Danush’s presentation and treatment of Kartik Subaraj.
This righteous self-confidence simply does not fit into the world that this film is trying to build for itself. After all, this is a film that begins with a London-based IT employee who casually talks about his closeness to a Madurai gangster during his evaluation meeting. This gangster, Suruli (Danush), is the man who is on his way to a hit job on the day he gets engaged. He hides bombs in his barota he goes shopping and he stops a train to kill a man. How seriously should we take him when he goes from a reckless villain to a responsible “brown” savior?
This change is too much of a maneuver for even the most capable storytellers. Even in a movie like Teacherwhere we start with such a reckless character, we see a clear rainbow in the way he changes to become someone else after a significant incident. IN Jagame Tandhiram the hero also receives a similar moment of enlightenment after realizing the madness of his ways. But the change in his heart is neither internal nor external. The issue the film is about is so sensitive that there really is no clear way to return to the dishonest entertainment that was in the beginning. This also applies to Suruli’s personality. Without splendor, it is not the same as the film. So when the film turns to bring back its original taste towards the end, you also question the sincerity with which it deals with these difficult issues.
Allegorically, the film is even more ambitious. Through Suruli, the film paints a picture of an opportunist, an apolitical Indian, whose silence during the Sri Lankan civil war can also be read as a kind of betrayal. Pointing out the roles that developed countries have played in this collective silence, the film even hints at how we misjudged a Tamil-speaking leader and his seemingly violent ways.
Reproduction as a fantasy to fulfill desires about what could happen if Indians really get involved, Jagame Tandhiram takes the skeleton of Kannathil Muthamittal to cover it with a shiny but hollow body.
Subbaraj’s heyday is scattered throughout the film, and fans have already become experts at spotting everything from (literally) writing on the walls to the hitherto predictable “twist.” Raaja’s songs, the homage to Rajini, the perfect synchronicity of pop culture and screen action … they are all there in abundance. But something is wrong and the enjoyment is not the same as seven or eight years ago.
So much so that a British racist in the film actually has both Ku Klu Klux slaves and the Nazi eagle (Reichsadler) in his home office. Trapped between taking the film too seriously and not seriously enough, we are mired in alien waters, holding a life jacket in the form of performing Dhanush balls. Unfortunately, Jagame Tandhiram faces the same identity crisis affecting the many refugees it speaks of.