‘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.

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Super Deluxe Movie Review: Sink into the ethereal blissfulness

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Source: Twitter | Gopi Prasannaa

Super Deluxe leaves you with thoughts – about life, our existence, the perception of normalcy and questions over what is considered right (or wrong)

Greatness of Director Thiagarajan Kumararaja, who garnered towering praise for his debut film Aaranya Kaandam, was well-known. His second film Super Deluxe is beyond greatness. It’s blissful and enlightening. After a thrilling and exceptional neo-noir gangster movie like Aaranya Kaandam, Thiagarajan has taken several leaps forward since then and there’s an unprecedented masterclass shown by him through his latest film. Super Deluxe leaves you with thoughts – about life, our existence, the perception of normalcy and questions over what is considered right (or wrong).

Super Deluxe has three disconnected stories (Not to forget that it is powered by super-stylish background score of Yuvan Shankar Raja). When I say disconnected, it means that they have no real dependence on one another and the events in each of those stories are taking place without any relation to the other. But somehow their worlds collide at some point and alter the lives of characters involved completely. There’s a lot happening in these stories that keep you on your edges throughout the movie. A small kid named Rasukutty (Ashwanth Ashokkumar), in the first story, is excited to see his father returning home after several years. And when his father returns, he is, now, revealed to be a transwoman named Shilpa (Vijay Sethupathi) which leaves his wife Jyothi (Gayathrie’s dejected and shocked countenance in this role moves you) in utter shock. The second story shows a group of teenage boys adroitly planning for a movie time together. Why is planning required in the first place just to watch a movie? They are planning to watch a porn movie and revel in sexual pleasures that they will obtain from it. The ultimate revelation as they play the movie on television is that the actress turns out to be one of the boys’ mother. The third story shows that Vaembu (Samantha Akkineni) has slept with her ex-boyfriend in her home and he has died just after the sex. While she is frozen with horror, she looks out from her window and sees that her husband Mugilan (Fahadh Faasil) is returning home on his motorcycle. The intriguing start to all of these three stories sets the wheels turning right from the incipient stage. The film never allows you to slip into a train of thoughts and its interesting turn of events keeps you engrossed throughout.

The entire first half of the movie is evenly mixed with both the seriousness and the humour. It is only in the second half that the gravity of those grave situations starts to overpower the hilarity attached to them. Take the case of transwoman Shilpa (Vijay Sethupathi has outstandingly shed his masculine nature and has lent a terrific performance). It is hilarious when Rasukutty repeatedly runs to the door to see if his father has arrived. And when he does arrive, Rasukutty’s grandfather, funnily, due to his old age, has no clue who that is. Even though Rasukutty accepts his father for what he is now, the outside world has not welcomed Shilpa with open arms. Shilpa is sexually abused by a police officer Berlin (Bagavathi Perumal is amazing in this character) and even mocked at by school children (A direct potshot at the importance of sex education for children). In another story, there are comedic instances where Vaembu openly confesses that she had intercourse with the man who died immediately after sex and her husband Mugilan tries to take a look at dead man’s penis to figure out if that’s the difference between him and the dead man. Later, a threat from police officer Berlin and his demand for intercourse with Vaembu makes you uncomfortable. In the story involving the teenage boys, their meet up with the boss of goons and their pursuit of money remains one of the most side-splitting instances in the film. But one of the boys is admitted in a hospital and it’s agonising to see his mother Leela (Ramya Krishnan), a former porn actress, begging to Doctor to start the surgery. It shows the horrifying reality of some of the hospitals taking no interest in saving lives but to rake in money. The situation gets worsened when Arputham (Mysskin), the religious and superstitious father of the dying boy, takes his son to his place of worship in the hope of saving his life (You really get annoyed by this superstitious Arputham character. That’s how well this character is written).

I was mesmerised by the camera work and the detailed shots. Shots captured using still camera were phenomenal (As Shilpa is strolling along the street with Rasukutty, in one scene, the colourful posters on the wall makes up for a picturesque shot). Sometimes, the background scenes play important role in defining a moment and even explain so much about the situation a character is in (Rasukutty suddenly gets lost and Shilpa frantically searches about the street. At this instant, we see ‘Real World, Magic Event’ scribbled on a wall). Even the depiction of life in different forms enthrals you. No matter how much trouble you are in, there is a life beyond your purview which keeps moving (Vaembu and Mugilan are caught in a complicated situation. A dead man is kept inside their refrigerator. Some guests are sitting in their living room. Amidst all this, the camera closely focuses on the ants busily crawling up the wall).

With the representation of lust, infidelity, extraterrestrial life, superstition, sexual abuse, sex education, dejection, merriment, harsh reality and everything in between, Super Deluxe has a much bigger thing to convey. And in what style! The teenage boys go to a cinema hall to watch a porn movie called ‘Super Deluxe’ and it’s through this adult film, we get to look at a much bigger picture of life as a guy narrates in a preachy and quirky tone. This is a film where Thiagarajan questions what is considered a ‘normal’ life and what should be done (or not to be done) so as to be accepted by society. We get to realise that we all are one. This is one world. Super Deluxe is the greatest Tamil-language Indian film I have ever witnessed. I can even go on to say that it is one of the best films of all time.

Petta Movie Review: A truest, exhilarating and jovial masala action movie

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Petta is a romantic, mind-boggling, and a rollicking ride that is ‘only’ for Rajini fans

It’s a dark corridor of a college hostel and masked men are attacking students with billhooks. Kaali a.k.a Pettavelan (Superstar Rajinikanth) comes from the dark saying “ulle poda” (Go inside) in Baasha-ish style that sort of reverberates through the corridor. This scene comes just before the intermission which sent shivers down my spine. Karthik Subbaraj’s Petta is a masala action film where you get ‘rajnified’ by the truest ‘mass moments’ (as the heroic moments are called in Tamil cinema). Petta is not exactly about a transformation of the protagonist from an innocuous guy to a powerful man like we see in Baasha. It is more of a showing-his-real-identity thing where he is already known for being courageous and influential.

Karthik Subbaraj’s storytelling has been his greatest asset and it was no different in Petta. It takes us back and forth to different times and keeps springing surprises thereby keeping us engrossed. The story begins with a riveting present-day scene and goes back in the past that eventually leads us to that present day. It again digs further down in the past to uncover more secrets and comes back to the present day for a grand finale. Petta is about Pettavelan, the college hostel warden, who is not only responsible for looking after the students but has a history with present-day powerful politician Singaar Singh a.k.a Singaaram (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). We learn about Pettavelan’s real motive of joining the college as warden and revel in the intriguing duel between him and Singaaram.

Petta is replete with references to Rajinikanth’s previous movies and the aura that he has created over the years. Anyone who is a true fan of Rajini (like Director Karthik Subbaraj himself) and has been hankering for reliving those ‘Rajini moments’ would definitely relish every reference that has been made in this film. Rajini’s famous “paambu..paambu” dialogue still makes us laugh and Pettavelan does say that to frighten the college mess supervisor (Munishkanth Ramdoss). When Singaaram’s son Jithu (Vijay Sethupathy) asks for a cigarette, he throws one in his own mouth, lights it and exhales smoke (but also advises not to smoke). In another scene, he even twirls his gun around the trigger finger. Anu (Megha Akash), the daughter of Rajini’s love-interest Mangalam (Simran) in the present day, tells Pettavelan that he looks stylish like a young boy to which he says, “naturally”. When he throws open the gate outside Mangalam’s home, it reminds us of that iconic gate scene from his first film Apoorva Raagangal. One can’t help but rejoice in the reminiscence of his film Mullum Malarum when he dances to the song called ‘Raman Aandaalum’. Maalik (M. Sasikumar), the close friend of Pettavelan and Anwar (Sananth Reddy), the son of Maalik, reminds us of that beautiful friendship from the movie Baashha.

Huge credit goes to Karthik Subbaraj for showing us the playful side of Rajinikanth to an extent that was perhaps last seen in Sivaji The Boss. When being interviewed for warden post by the College Principal (Y.G. Mahendran), Pettavelan bangs hard on the table, gets hold onto a toy and says “bommai” (toy) referring to the Principal. He is also not just walking around in the college. Instead, we see him in a rollicking mode all the time. He does a cricket bowling action while walking along with college mess supervisor. While Michael (Bobby Simha) and his men are ragging the junior guys, Pettavelan comes in the midst of them and shakes a leg. At a funeral, we see Pettavelan jovially dancing to the beats of drums. It is chucklesome to see his reaction when Maalik, who has impregnated Poongodi, says that he has done nothing. In another scene, lost in the beauty of Mangalam, who is a pranic healer in this film, Pettavelan winds up asking if she is a “biryani dealer”.

I never wanted the romantic phase between Pettavelan and Mangalam to end at all. Rajinikanth and Simran’s pair was reinvigorating and pleasant to watch which made this a dreamy phase and one for the ages. Pettavelan knocks on her door and looks at the mirror to see if he is looking alright. Mangalam does the same on the inside before opening the door. Anu and her boyfriend Anwar are mesmerised by the blossoming romance between Pettavelan and Mangalam as she smilingly watches him cooking food (And so are we enthralled by this lovely relationship!). It is a beautiful scene when they go out and buy flowers and ‘Ilamai Thirumbuthe’ song in the background exemplifies the beauty even more (Anirudh Ravichander’s commendable music is one of the quintessential elements of this film).

As the first half of the movie covers the romance and college scenes, one may start thinking if this is what the movie is all about. In one of the scenes in the second half, Pettavelan gets a phone call from Mangalam and does not answer reaffirming that there is no time for love and more important issues are at stake. So, as we approach towards the intermission, Pettavelan and his fight with the goons gets triggered. It is almost like Pettavelan is giving a signal to the audience to sit-back-and-enjoy when he is sitting on an easy-chair near the college gate with his hands behind the head literally waiting for the goons to attack him. All the drama surrounding ragging in the college, the enmity between Michael and Anwar, and the romance comes to a halt as the movie unveils the core issues of the movie. It was thrilling to see Rajinikanth using nunchaku (chain sticks), a martial arts weapon popularised by Bruce Lee, to fight against goons with such agility. The scene where he shoots at the chairs which are piled up behind Jithu is a visual treat.

In a film like this, where everyone has performed so well, it is hard to pinpoint one or two. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Singaaram looks threatening when a bomb goes off at a place and he crawls over dead bodies frantically in search of Pettavellan. Vijay Sethupathy as Jithu looks villainous when he removes the shawl from one hand and starts shooting at the goons. Simran as Mangalam is not just beautiful but performs with aplomb when she had to persuade another patient (Chinni Jayanth) to wait outside while she is treating Pettavelan. The evil look of Bobby Simha as Michael works wonder as he does all the talking in absence of Pettavelan but could not say a word while he is present. M. Sasikumar as Maalik looks perfect for this innocent character. Although, I felt that Saro’s character could have been given some importance as her death did not evoke any emotion. Also, Maalik’s friendship with Pettavelan seemed to have been cut short and did not fully develop into a strong bond that it aspired to. But the lack of focus on these characters did not really affect much as the story had a lot of complications and was gradually revealing everything in an immersing way.

Whether it was intentionally done or the movie really required it, I have no idea. Petta has some political touch to it (Rajini’s political entry in the real-life has definitely worked in the film’s favour). There is a politician who calls himself “Kingmaker” while in the background someone is speaking on the phone asking how much thermocol is needed (a clear reference to a Tamil Nadu minister who floated thermocol sheets to curb water loss due to evaporation).  Pettavelan even asks the students to ‘speak up’ for their problems related to hostel food. During the ragging scene, he also reiterates that ‘newcomers are never welcomed properly’. We also see Pettavelan reading a book about politics during the interview with the College Principal. While convincing Rajapandi for the marriage of Maalik and Poongodi, Pettavelan says that he does not differentiate between Hindus and Muslims. There is also a reference to some of the recent incidents related to killings in the name of cow protection when some people start attacking Jithu for the same reason.

I am afraid that Petta is not for the ones who are not true fans of Rajinikanth. Fans of Karthik Subbaraj (like myself) may not be enjoying as much for there are compromises made to accommodate Rajini moments. But Petta will be remembered for the Rajini mania that it has created. As the acknowledgements in the beginning clearly mention that it is dedicated to Superstar Rajinikanth, one would expect a lot of fan moments. The inception itself had an answer to that as Karthik Subbaraj drops us to a fight scene right away and a blurred vision of Rajinikanth can be seen which is followed by his angry eyes and then the full picture. Petta will also be remembered for new dialogues of Rajinikanth (like dancing to a song for 30 seconds to forget our problems or cooking the food with love or my favourite, “Nallavana iru, romba nallavana irukathey”). This is the sort of movie where I won’t mind Prime Minister of the country calling a college principal to recommend Pettavelan for a warden post. Petta is a romantic, mind-boggling, entertaining and a rollicking ride that makes us say “yes, we want more” when Rajinikanth turns towards the camera and asks, “intha aattam pothuma?”.