Thandavam (September 27, 2012)
Cast: Vikram Kennedy, Anushka Shetty, Amy Jackson, Jagapati Babu, Santhanam, Nasser, Lakshmi Rai
Story & Screenplay: A.L.Vijay
A contemptuous, disdainful, sneering laugh broke out last night at the end of the premiere show of Vikram’s new film Thandavam at a theatre on the U.S. East Coast.
It was a rare, welcome instance of a traditionally forbearing Tamil audience openly displaying their revulsion over an incredibly bad film.
The mocking laughter echoed loud enough for us to hear it at the back of the hall.
If you want to know, the laughter from a section of the audience came in the final moments of the film as watched over by his besotted lover Sarah Vinayagam (Amy Jackson) Vikram’s character Siva Kumar/Kenny Thomas/Arjun Rathore lays a wreath in the London park where his wife Meenakshi (Anushka Shetty) lost her life earlier in a fiery bomb blast.
Not Daredevil, but Bare Junk
There’s been speculation among some netizens that Vikram’s Thandavam is inspired by the 2003 Hollywood film Daredevil (Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Collin Farrell).
Tis’ true that the two films share a similar silly focus on a blind action hero using his ears/sound (echolocation) as his eyes to vanquish the bad guys.
Silly as Daredevil was, one could at least take solace in the solid performances of Ben Affleck as the masked blind super hero Matt Murdock and Colin Farrell as the maniacal villain Bullseye and the slick action scenes.
But don’t go looking for redeeming features in Thandavam because there are none.
Vikram plays an Indian Police Service intelligence officer Siva Kumar on the trail of a stolen ‘flow chart’ that is the key to a weapon of mass destruction developed by the Indian scientific community.
When he’s in London to recover the ‘flow chart’ he loses his eyesight in bomb blasts that also claims the life of his wife and several others.
The rest of Thandavam is so bizarrely, incredibly stupid that I was left aghast at the new lows that Tamil cinema was plumbing.
To chronicle all of the nonsense that makes up Thandavam would be akin to Hercules’ labor of cleaning the Augean stables.
So much time is squandered on the romances, the church scenes, the wedding in the village, the married life, songs, the humor track etc that the focus on action/terrorism often recedes into the background and turns the film into a tedious, directionless bore.
There’s so little color on the bad guys (except for Jagapati Babu’s character) and their motivations that it beggars belief.
Only in a Tamil film does the highly educated doctor wife not know that her husband is a senior IPS officer with RAW and believes her husband is a corrupt Sub-Inspector with the Delhi police (kinda like Shahrukh Khan’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi where the wife can’t recognize the husband without a mustache).
Ultimately, it’s director A.L.Vijay’s garish hodgepodge of a script that pulls down the film into the swamps of mediocrity.
Santhanam does his best to enliven the proceedings as the taxi driver invariably found at the scene of the crimes. We must confess to finding Santhanam’s dialogs and antics amusing and irritating at the same time.
A lot of scenes like the marriage moments, the London police’s investigation into the murders, the church scenes or Sarah singing there seemed so affected and utterly unconvincing.
What About Vikram?
Vikram has betrayed his loyal fan base yet again for a few silver coins.
Time and again, Vikram has selected scripts that are outright stolen or utterly incoherent and leave him no scope to showcase his talents, such as they are.
For much of Thandavam, Vikram wears a grim, monotone expression.
We were sorely disappointed by the ho-hum action scenes, none of which rose above what we’ve seen in a gazillion below par Tamil or Hindi films.
The final fight scene between Vikram’s character and the villain Sharath was, to be charitable, cringeworthy.
Telugu film star Jagapati Babu is poorly cast as Siva Kumar’s intelligence officer buddy Sharath who is ultimately found to be the villain/traitor betraying the national secrets for high money.
A strong action film must have a powerful villain at its core (like for instance the Joker in the Batman films or Bullseye in Daredevil).
Au contraire, the villain in Thandavam comes across as a buffoon at best and drab at worst.
Worse, Jagapati is not endowed with the acting chops required to carry off the villain’s role with any semblance of verisimilitude.
Most of the time, he comes across as amateurish, more so in the final confrontation with Siva Kumar in London as he mouths off his love for big money and exhorts his erstwhile buddy to join him.
There is little chemistry between the two romantic pairs – Vikram and Amy Jackson or Vikram and Anushka.
Both Anushka and Amy Jackson have little to do, except look glamorous and lip-sync to songs.
Amy Jackson has a long way to go before she can spell a c t i n g.
Amy’s presence in the film may be attributed solely to the morbid fascination of the dark-skinned Tamils for fair-skinned babes.
Lakshmi Rai’s plight is worse, relegated as she is to just a few scenes.
Thandavam’s music did little to lift the proceedings above the banal.
Picturization of every song was unimaginatively, depressingly dull.
The booby prizes for the worst picturization goes to the opening number Yaaradi Yaaradi Mogini Pola picturized on Amy Jackson and the final song Uyirin Uyirae Unathu Vizhiyil featuring Vikram and Anushka.
Among the various numbers, we found Oru Paadhi Kadhavu Neeyadi to be the least aggravating.
It’s unlikely any of the Thandavam songs will be remembered a few weeks from now.
There was considerable chitchat and restlessness among the audience suggesting a lack of interest in the proceedings on the screen.
Who can blame the audience given the puerile junk inflicted on them.
Thandavam is so hopelessly bad that one sees just no light at the end of the Kollywood tunnel.