‘Rajathanthiram’ better be worth it, I thought to myself, as I stepped into the familiar staleness of auditorum #2 at Towne 3. First it was a friend who hyped it, a trip on Saturday turned a no-show – “We haven’t received the disc yet.”, he announced without an air or apology and on Monday – “Sorry, we have the disc now, but not the key. Please call back”. This film was going to get it even if it was on par. Unfair on the movie? Yes. Was I in a mood to be fair? Nope.
Very excited and happy to report, ‘Rajathandhiram’ raises the bar for Tamil thrillers (and movies generally keeping away from the masala formula). After ‘Rajathandhiram’, it’s going to be a tough suit to follow. By a neat margin, this is one of the most satisfying, smart and entertaining movie of this year, even a notch above the cream of 2014 (and definitely those from 2013).
‘Rajathandiram’ satiates every probability of a tamil audience’s notion of a நல்ல படம், excels in every craft that gratifies a critic and sends you out with a smile on your face and a respect that very few movies accord you.
A heist film is predictable in certain ways. You pretty much know the ending, you can even guess the interval block and can clearly pick the script trying to muddle the predictability by throwing in too many characters and multiplying the motives by as many factors. So, how does the script stay ahead of us. The director, has an answer and it is never lazy, cheap or without breaking a sweat.
A G Amid, of course, is the master who pulls all these string with the grasp of a veteran, not a debutante. Keeping the thriller edge-of-the-seat is one thing, but never letting the humour run dry is a skill that is never an easy stock. The mark of a mature director is how seldom he cashes in on cliches, when it is ripe for the picking. Not just side-stepping cliches, the script treats its characters with a deeper mind and attributes that stays rational and true to type.
There are minor things that you notice that spell immense promise for Amid. An emotionally charged confrontation between, friends on the cusp of being lovers, is nipped by the arrival of kids walking in line between the two; the scene is beautifully transformed into two aching hearts forced into silence and painful rumination. An inspector checking into his station, discreetly wipes his விபூதி off, to present himself has even-handed.
Veera (a GVM assistant) who had to pick up on the unfortunate opportunity of playing a Norman Bates in ‘Nadunisi Naaygal’ gets a rare (unlikely, in Tamil cinema) comeback with ‘Rajathandhiram’. Here is a chocolate-faced lead, in the mould of Madhavan, who breaks the cast to play a street-smart, conman with a heart of gold. The gorgeous Regina Cassandra, another actress who has played pretty unremarkable roles earlier in tamil, gets a proper showcase for her acting.
The guys who steals out heart is Darbuka Siva who isn’t just another RJ turned comedian, but an actor with a crafty sense of timing, delivery and the knack to gab in Madras lingo like he lives it. Pattiyal K Shekar as Kanchi Azhgappan is possibly a cool cross-forge of undramatic villainy between G Umapathi (in Agni Naksathiram) and Bharathiraja (in Aayitha Ezhuthu).
Picking Sandeep Chowta’s background score for a film with a single song (by G V Prakash) calls to attention the director’s judgement or having Ghibran for a brother has its perks with making pairing the right talent to he right genre.
I’d demand that Rajathandhiram ought to be watched in theatres. Of course, the word-of-mouth must have beat me to it.