Chalne Do Movie Review: An intelligent film infused with seductions, love-affair and betrayal

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Source: Anticlock Films | Youtube

It’s the Utsav Banerjee’s intelligent screenplay along with Nikunj’s vision that makes this one of the greatest films I have ever seen.

(Thanks to 10th Jagran Film Festival Delhi 2019 for the screening of this remarkable film)

The power of the longest dissertation is in its in-depth coverage. Sometimes even a small piece of writing can be more meaningful and insightful than a longer counterpart. Director Nikunj Rathod’s Chalne Do (Keep Going) is a 42-minute feature film that, considering its short running time, comes bundled with plenty on offer. Nikunj’s brilliance comes to the fore when we start realising that the number ‘two’ is deeply ingrained in the film in different forms and makes it all the more impressive.

To begin with, the entire movie is in black and white colours. The title of the film has two words- ‘Chalne’ and ‘Do’. And these two words don’t appear on the screen together. ‘Chalne’ appears first and after a few scenes, ‘Do’ comes on to the screen (When ‘Do’ does make an appearance, you marvel at its timing and the relevance it accompanies with the film’s story). The use of Schrödinger’s cat, a thought experiment that shows two different possibilities, amazes you when you understand its relevance with the film’s narrative. There are two titular characters in the film – Saathya (Ruchita Tahiliani arrests you with her exemplary performance in this character) and Roop (Rahaao lends an engrossing act in this role).

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Source: Anticlock Films | Youtube

As the film tries to establish a relationship between Saathya and Roop, their two different sides get uncloaked. Saathya is trying to create a balance between her reel life aspirations and real life. She, in a scene, says that there’s a good person as well as a bad person dwelling inside everyone but people only see you as either a good or a bad person. As the film goes on to reveal two such different shades of Rahaao, you wonder at how marvellously Nikunj has shown Saathya, who’s in need of a companion, has failed to notice the negative side of Rahaao. When you think of it, the literal meaning of Saathya (which is, a companion or a friend) and Roop (which is, a form) aptly suit the respective characters (Hats off to Nikunj).

The romance between Saathya and Roop, as they go out for a walk on a rainy night and stick close to each other under an umbrella, is beautiful to watch. The tricks played by Saathya, in Roop’s presence, is seductive. The best moment, in this love angle, comes when Saathya is standing on the beach and Roop slowly walks towards her. The camera captures her from the ground level so that the full moon in the night sky is visible (Ah! What a sight that makes in this black and white setting).

It’s the Utsav Banerjee’s intelligent screenplay along with Nikunj’s vision that makes this one of the greatest films I have ever seen.

‘Occurrence At Mills Creek’ Short Film Review: More suspense than horror

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Source: SpruceFilms | Youtube

The enigma surrounding the death tries to keep the film afloat but amateurish execution in places, lack of horrifying instances and bad acting work against its favour.

Clara (Ava Psoras) and Cassandra (Alexa Mechling), wearing a black outfit, are slowly walking together in a cemetery after burying their mother, Emily (Betsy Lynn George). The background music here – the film has the original score from Mark D’Errico and additional music from Mia Zanotti, Jay Zanotti and Lorey Zanotti – beautifully captures the essence of the first couple of minutes from Iron Maiden’s song called Dance Of Death. One can also feel a bit of Ennio Morricone-style whistle in there. So the music does its part well to set the right mood for a horror film.

Director Don Swanson’s Occurrence At Mills Creek tells the story of a deceased girl (and that is Cassandra). The narrative attempts to find the cause of her death and the person who killed her. The suspense created by Swanson is exemplary as it gives rise to doubts inside you as to the exact reason of her death who is said to have died at the creek. On the one hand, Clara can be seen feeling the loss of her sister as several people make an appearance at the funeral to mourn the death of Cassandra. On the other hand, she is also shown to be envying the beauty of Cassandra. So, you are not quite sure about Clara’s intentions. Victor (Joe Fishel), their father, can be seen with a blank countenance at Cassandra’s funeral and is also involved in a quarrel with a woman (This quarrel scene, like few other scenes, seemed too amateurishly shot and the woman who is having an argument with Victor lends a bad performance. As a matter of fact, even the performance of lead characters was all over the place). So, this makes you think if Victor has anything to do with Cassandra’s death. But when the knot of mystery surrounding the death is finally untangled, it doesn’t leave you greatly astonished.

Even though the suspense works out well, the movie does not have enough to horrify you as much as it intends to. The glimpses of Emily’s ghost shown in the film aren’t really terrifying. But there’s a scene that takes place at the church and is worth mentioning (People, sitting all around Clara, start looking at her with a blank expression. At this instant, the camera puts a particular focus on an old woman. This doesn’t send a shiver down your spine but you do feel a strangeness during the scene).

This short film is only the first act of a full-length feature film that will be released in 2020. Not surprisingly, the film leaves you with plenty of unanswered questions. The enigma surrounding the death tries to keep the film afloat but amateurish execution in places, lack of horrifying instances and bad acting work against its favour.

‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ Movie Review: A mind-bending and thrilling film that presents male violence against women with a whole new approach

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You acquiesce to the brilliance of Dhillon’s superlative writing and allow the film to unfurl the answers to your questions all by itself.

As the film begins and accreditations to the cast and crew appear on the screen, you get to see origami made out of newspaper cut-outs. Each of them accompanies itself with grim headlines about rape or domestic violence by men against women. Reading such headlines (for instance, a father burnt her daughter alive) unsettles you.

Director Prakash Kovelamudi’s Judgementall Hai Kya isn’t exactly a film about a woman suffering under male dominance or violence. It’s a complex story that traverses different paths and confuses you in the process before finally presenting a ‘big reveal’ (Be prepared to be amazed when that happens). It’s about a woman trying to save another woman from the grasp of a man who is disguised as a different person. It’s also about a man trying to save his wife from falling prey to false claims of another woman. There’s a constant pursuit of finding the real accused who killed an innocent woman. Amidst all of this, there are women in the film who fall victim to a man’s cruelty as he burns them alive and enjoys their shrieks.

The two main characters in the film are Bobby (Kangana Ranaut) and Keshav (Rajkummar Rao). Bobby has a mental disorder called “acute psychosis” as a doctor explains in the film. Bobby’s so-called boyfriend, Varun (Hussain Dalal), explains, in layman’s terms, that she has “complexes” in her mind. Ever since she was a small girl, she has shown particular attention towards helpless women being bogged down by men’s brutality. It is this propensity towards women’s sufferings that makes her collect newspaper clippings on such news and make origami out of them. She winds up meeting Keshav as he, along with his wife (played by Amyra Dastur whose sensual scenes, in particular, with Rajkummar Rao were outstanding), rent a house of which Bobby is the landlord. Keshav’s character doesn’t give you a clear perception of what he’s like. Sometimes he is shown to be a good husband who is affectionate towards his wife. But you also get to see him doing peculiar things, which even Bobby notices, and make you believe he might not be a good person and hiding a villainous side of him. Things start turning topsy-turvy when Bobby gets “obsessed” with Keshav. She not only develops a feeling of lust towards Keshav but also gathers doubts if he’s intending to kill his wife.

The film, then, leaves you startled, as the events that follow tests your ability to guess who’s the killer and who’s the saviour. Well, the credit goes to Kanika Dhillon’s fantastic writing, of course, for lending the film this absolute power of surprising you at all instances and never allowing you to settle down or have a sigh of relief. You always juggle between your assumptions based on different evidence that the film produces at every stage. After a while, you acquiesce to the brilliance of Dhillon’s superlative writing and allow the film to unfurl the answers to your questions all by itself. In short, just let Bobby do the judgement. The amazing background score and the horror-film-like feel makes the film even more thrilling.

The comedy instances involving Varun and Bobby were especially hilarious. Varun, in a scene, tries to convince Bobby that it’s about time they get married and have sex. Bobby replies childishly saying that they are doing exactly what married couples do, that is, buy groceries together. Varun also constantly complains of being “used” by her. He, evoking gales of laughter, reveals that the condom, he had in his pocket for so long with the hope of having sex with her, has “expired” without being used.

There are some minor loopholes felt in the film. There’s a character called Megha (Amrita Puri) who is pregnant in the film. She has escaped a life-threatening situation and lost her husband. But she doesn’t show any kind of consternation in her countenance (She calmly says thanks to Bobby). In another scene, Bobby, after an attacker slits her wrists, gets admitted in a hospital. She escapes from the hospital and all of a sudden, despite her poor health, manages to appear at Megha’s doorstep, in an outfit, that represents an Indian mythological figure. There’s another scene where Keshav is being interrogated by a couple of policemen. Keshav dissuades them from charging anything against him. His efforts of proving his innocence before policemen, where he bewails the loss of his wife, feel superficial and devoid of emotions as if the whole act is purposely done for the audience to catch something uncanny there. Don’t bother if you see policemen failing to notice that. A film that has so many unexpected turns could have done away with such an attempt. With that being said, the film’s narrative is so abundant with surprises and mind-boggling scenes, these little loopholes seem trivial. The film can’t have made such an impact if not for exemplary acts from Rajkummar Rao and Kangana Ranaut. If you are in the mood for a rollicking, engrossing, funny and a mind-blowing film, then Judgementall Hai Kya is for you.

Chintu Ka Birthday Movie Review: A moving tale of a family, in search of happier times, getting into undue trouble

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Source: Jagran Film Festival

Chintu Ka Birthday is a film which seeks to find happiness amidst all troubles. In this, the innocence prevails over brutality.

Thanks to Jagran Film Festival 2019, I was able to watch the ‘India Premiere’ of ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’.

It’s Chintu’s (Vedant Chibber) birthday and his father, Madan (Vinay Pathak is fantastic in this role), has requested his wife, Sudha (Tillotama Shome), to sing a song which she used to sing when Chintu was a new-born baby. So sings Sudha and she is joined by Chintu’s grandmother (Seema Bhargava). The family members and their Iraqi landlord, Hassan Mahdi (Khaled Masso lends an amazing performance in this character), find themselves spellbound by the beauty of the song. The euphonious and captivating song soothes your heart too and makes you feel the warmth and gladness.

This is one of those transient instances in Chintu Ka Birthday, directed by Devanshu Singh and Satyanshu Singh, where you get to see this family in a jovial mood and having a nice time together. The duo of Devanshu and Satyanshu decide to explain the problematic situation, which the family is in, through a 6-year-old Chintu. Rightfully so, as Chintu narrates the story, where we get to know how his father came to Iraq to earn a living and eventually brought his family too before the country’s political situation worsened and terrorism started taking the centre-stage, there comes an animated depiction of the entire narration (You can find yourself with a smile on your face during this entire cartoon sequence). The film tells you that the Indian Government has claimed that it has brought back all the Indians from Iraq. Chintu’s family is one of those who are stuck in Iraq with no help.

The film shows one day in the life of Chintu and his family. The plan for celebrating Chintu’s birthday is in full swing. Everyone is making sure that unlike previous years, this year the birthday celebration doesn’t get ruined no matter what. The situation outside doesn’t look promising and Chintu’s sister, Lakshmi (Bisha Chaturvedi), comes back home without a cake. But she makes sure that, with help from her mother, she prepares one herself at home. You see Madan fixing an old oven for the preparation of cake. Even their Iraqi landlord Mahdi sings an Arabic song to Chintu to cheer him up.

A bomb goes off outside their house and that’s when things come to a standstill. It saddens you as the mirthfulness, the family is in, comes to a halt. Two new characters enter the scene at this stage. These are the American soldiers Reed (Nate Scholz) and Jackson (Reginald L. Barnes) who, after the bomb blast, have come to check their house.

It pains you to see what the family goes through. The horror-struck faces of each of the members make you feel how frightened they are. A father, who just wanted to make his son happy, gets harsh treatment from the soldiers. The dejectedness in Lakshmi is palpable as her cake gets burnt in the oven. It hurts you to see one of the soldiers unapologetically removing and tearing off this big paper pasted on the wall that read “Happy Birthday Chintu”. The presence of Iraqi landlord and findings of some DVDs based on terrorist camps at their house doesn’t help their cause too as Madan is presumed to be supporting terrorists.

As the film is shot entirely inside one house, you only get to feel the horrible situation of outsides through one medium – sound. You get to feel that a bomb went off outside the house but do not get to actually see the wreckage. There is a military helicopter flying above the house and you get to sense that through the noise created by its rotor. There is, of course, an instance when the movie does try to show you what it’s like outside the premises of this house. One of the American soldiers steps out of the house to check on the commotion and gets fired at from somewhere before he slips back inside. So, there is always a feeling of terror that the film brilliantly creates.

The few chucklesome instances are well-executed. For instance, in a scene, Madan playfully tells his son that there is a cake waiting for his son as can be seen by his ‘third’ eye. But on Lakshmi’s empty-handed return, Chintu complains about his father’s prediction going wrong. There’s a scene in which Chintu’s friends Waheed (Mehroos Mir) and Zainab (Amina Afroz) pay a visit and Waheed introduces Zainab as Chintu’s girlfriend. Waheed doesn’t just stop there and goes on to greet Jackson, who is African-American, as “nigga”. In another instance, Madan explains the meaning of his name to the soldiers with reference from Kamasutra. Jackson, later on, resorts to calling him by the name of ‘Kamasutra’ itself.

After a long hassle with the soldiers, there comes a moment when the cake is finally being cut by Chintu as the family merrily sing together wishing him a happy birthday. As the balloon, placed above him, bursts and sparkles come pouring down, the sheer excitement in him is discernible. Madan’s earnest wish of celebrating his son’s birthday comes true. Although one of the soldiers watches them celebrate without showing any emotion on his face, it moves you to see them rejoicing together finally. And then, Reed springs a surprise in the end (You need to watch it to really feel it).

As the movie comes to a close, the camera shows a top view as Chintu lies on his bed and looks up. It slowly moves towards him and the movie ends. Chintu is hopeful that troubled times will be long gone by and he might one day be back home in India. Chintu Ka Birthday is a film which seeks to find happiness amidst all troubles. In this, the innocence prevails over brutality.

‘Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal’ Movie Review: A nice outlook on women, with a vengeance, switching on the tit-for-tat mode

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Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is an interesting and intelligent attempt that makes you ruminate and understand a woman’s perspective and her wrath on seeing the heinous crimes that happen against girls.

A rock song plays in the background. You get different scenes from the capital city of India – Delhi. Street art comes into the picture as you see paintings on the walls. Glimpses of India Gate, Lotus Temple, and Humayun Tomb can be seen. You see Delhi Metro train busily helping commuters to reach their destination. The focus shifts towards a woman named Vibha (Shalini Vatsa) as she occupies a space inside ‘Women’s only’ coach. She can, then, be seen putting two cigarettes in her mouth and lighting them. As she does so, the rock music in the background intensifies.

This opening scene of Director Aditya Kripalani’s Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal – The Incessant Fear Of Rape, streaming on Netflix, has a lot to tell you. It drops you off in the Delhi city (a city that, among many things, has garnered attention for increasing crimes against women). There is a particular emphasis on ‘Women’s only’ signboard as Vibha boards train. And there’s definitely a rage of a woman felt in that two-cigarette-smoking scene.

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal has four leading characters – Vibha, Shaila (Kritika Pande), Shagun (Sonal Joshi) and Chitra (Chitrangada Chakraborty). Shaila runs a ‘Taxi for women’ service. Due to certain circumstances, Shaila ends up picking up all three of them in her taxi by herself. All of them are strangers to each other and they randomly talk about various things. There comes a discussion on the types of feminism such as amazon, liberal, socialist, pop, radical, and feminazism (I didn’t know there are different branches of feminism honestly and it was good to be exposed). Not surprisingly, as it’s night time and they are in Delhi city, a topic on ‘women safety at night’ springs up. The talks, then, start entering into the terrain of ‘gang rape’ and the sheer brutality that the victimised women go through.

It is at this juncture the film actually starts taking a U-turn as these women start pondering over teaching a lesson to “such” men. They contemplate if brutally raping a single man would send the message across. As a matter of fact, men don’t think they can be raped at all, one of them says. Rightfully so, they conclude that it’s not that women can’t be brutal to men but they choose not to be. Co-incidentally, they encounter a man  (played by Vinay Sharma) riding his motorcycle and hurling vulgar comments at them. These women wind up beating this guy and keeping him shut inside a not-in-use room for a week.

The film, then, goes on to show what these women decide to do with this man and what measures do they think should be taken against him that will prove cruel in this man’s case. You see that they force him to cook food for them, clean the floor, jeer at him, or even make him wearing almost a bikini-style outfit. The film still shows that these women recuse from actually ‘raping’ this guy and only resort to showing him the fear of inserting a rod inside his anus. Somehow, even as these women try to inflict pain and be barbaric towards him in their own way, all those scenes aren’t that powerful. You can be left wanting for more such harsh and intense inserting-the-rod sort of scenes.

There can’t be tit-for-tat instances happening without a purpose. There is a deeply rooted cause behind all that indignation shown by these women. Their suffering is etched in their memories and nothing can erase that. Shagun, a cop, recounts an event when a woman came running to the police station for help but was shot dead right there by her father and brother in front of other male cops. Vibha reminisces a forgettable past where her daughter was kidnapped right in front of her and was gang-raped. Chitra narrates a miserable event where she tackled some men twice but failed at the third instance. Even Shaila, who is running a ‘taxi for women’ service, shows her fight towards women’s safety.

At other times, there are noticeable references or things that keep you thinking about women’s troubles. There’s a scene at Vibha’s home where both Vibha and Chitra are having a nice little conversation. The camera shows a framed painting in which two women are selling fish. Then, turns over to the wall clock that says 2 o’ clock. At this moment, you see Chitra enquiring if Vibha and her mother are staying in this home all by themselves. You wonder at the analogy created by Aditya Kripalani here and the inferences you can take away from it. The camera, then, turns away and slowly captures the framed posters on walls of films like Mandi (Directed by Shyam Benegal, this tells the story of a brothel) and Arth (Directed by Mahesh Bhatt, this explores extramarital affairs). In another scene, you see framed sketches of human hands on the wall at Chitra’s place. These are the sketches made by Chitra herself and present an eerie and sorry picture of a woman’s hand that has signs of sufferings. And whenever such sad depiction comes into the picture, you can’t help but find yourself mesmerised by the beautiful use of guitar sounds in the background.

As the movie comes to a close, these four women meet at a place for drinks and celebrate together for having taught a lesson to such men (albeit through one man). They listen to news coverage on the television saying that this man has committed suicide. All four of them standstill with a discernible shock on their faces. Vibha runs back to women’s toilet and weeps (the camera puts the focus on women’s signboard here). You see that she has sunk back into gloom after all this. Perhaps the tit-for-tat was never the right option. It has seemed so initially with all that agony in her heart. Seeing the fate of that man has not given her the happiness which she thought she would get. She thought a fitting reply has been given to that man. And these women did that in their own style. The bigger picture is that, perhaps, thoughts of taking revenge against men would never even occur in women’s mind if they are not subjected to such cruelty in the first place.

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is an interesting and intelligent attempt that makes you ruminate and understand a woman’s perspective and her wrath on seeing the heinous crimes that happen against girls.

 

‘Super 30’ Movie Review: A great start and a dumb finish to an extraordinary story

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‘Super 30’ starts off promisingly, turns trite after a while and ends up with an unnecessary action-thriller sequence leaving a huge dissatisfaction.

The very first thing that captivates you in Director Vikas Bahl’s Super 30 is the background score from the duo of Ajay-Atul. The alluring and tuneful composition can make you fall in love with it instantly and you will find yourself swaying involuntarily as if the sound waves have got you under their control. Super 30 begins with the romantic side of the story. As Anand Kumar (Hrithik Roshan’s exemplary performance keeps you engrossed) comes to see Ritu (Mrunal Thakur leaves her mark in a short spell), who is taking her Indian classical dance lessons, Ajay-Atul’s score in the background mesmerises you. The love angle seems to be attracting your attention as the nerdy Anand gives a love letter containing binary numbers to the ravishing Ritu.

There’s an abrupt change in the narrative as the romance, that was building up between Anand and Ritu for a brief period, gives way to the more important matter at hand – which is the struggle of Anand Kumar and his perseverance towards assisting poor children to crack the most sought after engineering entrance exam in India. But this sudden change in the plot and its failure in registering the strong bond between Anand and Ritu keeps you wanting for more and you don’t feel for their separation. 

Anand Kumar, a real-life hero, on whom the movie is based, is lauded for his magnificent efforts towards bringing change, educating and preparing 30 poor kids every year for free of cost to help them get into Indian Institute of Technology. It’s the tough times that the movie focuses more upon. Written by Sanjeev Dutta, the film does engage you for the most part but loses its sheen in the second half.

There’s a constant attempt to reiterate the norm that is being followed the most in our society – “raja ka beta hi banega raja” (Only the king’s son is eligible to sit on the throne next). Instances like Anand being thrown out of the library (foreign journals are for high standard ones, says the library manager) or being asked to teach only the “premium” students who can pay huge amount of fees in return does make you understand the plight of poor people who really want to pursue education of their choice. But such instances become so repetitive in the film and that’s when you can get a bit restless.

Pankaj Tripathi and Aditya Shrivastava bring a villainous look to the characters of education minister and coaching centre head respectively. But their relevance drops significantly as the movie progresses.

There are moments where it can get hard to control your emotions and hold back your tears. The father-son relationship is the best thing about the movie. The excitement in Anand’s father (played by Virendra Saxena), while riding his bicycle and carrying the letter containing mathematical theory solved by his son, is palpable. There’s discernible care for his son seen as he first combs his hair and then combs Anand’s while on their way to ask for help with money. It’s heart-wrenching to see a father’s utter disappointment and dejectedness in his failure of arranging money in time for his son’s education. And then there is this display of hopeful faces of a young boy working in a manhole or a young girl being helped by her mother to escape from the grabs of a drunk father. It makes it difficult for you to see the poor conditions they live in but having dreams of becoming a nuclear scientist or a biotech engineer. Also, Anand’s incessant struggle in bringing food on the table for his students worries you.

It’s wonderful to see how Anand incorporates real-life scenarios to teach his students. He also mentions how the rich people are getting to enjoy all the privileges. He further says that it’s about time that the “hakdaar” (entitled person) gets to reap the benefits and they will have to take a huge “chhalaang” (leap) to get ahead in life. Who knew this will pan out so bad? The movie winds up trying a big cinematic experience with some dumb goons being intelligently tackled by these poor kids. Only that it doesn’t work at all. Super 30 starts off promisingly, turns trite after a while and ends up with an unnecessary action-thriller sequence leaving a huge dissatisfaction.

‘Sindhubaadh’ Movie Review: An uninteresting tale that goes hither and thither

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Sindhubaadh remains a humdrum film throughout that juggles between different things and ends up reaching nowhere.

Thiru (Vijay Sethupathi) and his young sidekick Super (Surya Vijay Sethupathi) have escaped from the grabs of goons. They look weary and start contemplating what to do next. They see a multi-floor building and Thiru decides to enter it. It sounds comedic as Super, who is very tired, enquires Thiru why are they going inside this building. Thiru responds saying that he does not know himself and would think about it later. As you sit through a long drawn-out story like Sindhubaadh, moments like this can seem chucklesome. Such moments can strangely seem similar to the way film meanders to get to its most important phase.

Director S. U. Arun Kumar’s Sindhubaadh is a story of Thiru (He gets a fake passport made for himself where his name is changed to Sindhubaadh) travelling all the way from India to Thailand to rescue his wife, Venba (Anjali), who has been captured by men running illegal organ trafficking business. Before the film actually gets to the organ trafficking part, which is the only phase where you feel engrossed in the film, it seems like drifting away with so many uninteresting additions and long running time (You might as well enjoy a sigh of relief as the intermission is declared on the screen).

Thiru’s hearing loss problem and Venba’s natural tendency to talk louder is a nicely thought-out scenario. Since the romance between these characters never really blossoms, this so-called scenario doesn’t work wonders. If at all anything can pleasantly surprise you in Thiru-Venba phase is a scene at the airport where Thiru has come to see Venba off. Suddenly, when she bends down, he ties a yellow thread around her neck that makes them a husband and a wife as per Hindu culture.

The tricks played by Thiru in his pursuit of winning the heart of Venba are supposed to be adding a funnier touch to the film (But, are they really?). Speaking of poor execution of comedy sequences, there is no escaping more of such annoying scenes that try too hard to make you laugh (For instance, the hackneyed depiction of the scenes where Thiru tells made-up stories to a guy. All you would be doing is watching with a blank countenance).

There’s a character played by Vivek Prasanna who is searching for his daughter. You see glimpses of this character developing into something serious. But he just keeps popping up every now and then and finds no real relevance in the movie, and hence, won’t make you feel for his loss.

There are even futile attempts to infuse “mass” elements (as is done in almost every masala films in Tamil cinema). You get to see how the film tries very hard to make Vijay Sethupathi look all powerful and glorious. For instance, in a scene, Thiru is fighting against some guys to protect Super. While doing so, he is casually talking to Super and even mocks a villain. Such scenes try to bring in the feeling of quirkiness and also show the protagonist in a heroic light. Neither of them works out. And then there’s a villain character whose duel with Thiru is underwhelming.

Better things in the film were far and few in between. Yuvan Shankar Raja’s amazing background score came as a beacon of light in an otherwise stodgy screenplay. Anjali as Venba, too, was fantastic and has put her heart and soul into this character (Venba’s agony can be felt as she is held tight by some men and forcefully dragged along the floor). You see few good attempts to highlight patriarchy (The father of Venba coerces her into marrying a man who he thinks is the right fit and even goes on to beat her before Thiru stops him) and women empowerment (Thiru motivates a woman to not sit at home no matter what and go out for work). Otherwise, Sindhubaadh remains a humdrum film throughout that juggles between different things and ends up reaching nowhere.