To be honest with you, I wasn’t at all keen on watching Thani Oruvan. I don’t particularly like anyone associated with that movie. Yes, even Arvind Swamy – I have never understood why he features in the fantasies of so many women. And the Theemai dhaan vellum music video did not help me feel better – what was Hip Hop Tamizha doing there? (Was it supposed to be a promotional video for his new moustache?) Also, what did that line mean: “I’m not bad, I’m just evil”? Though I should have known something unexpected was happening, for I discovered that my brother knew about this movie. Now let me tell you why this is an occurrence worth mentioning. This brother of mine, had he been a classmate in a parallel universe, would be that boy with whom I had almost nothing in common. It is as though he grew up in Manhattan and not Madras (I don’t know how else to say it). His sensibilities and cultural markers are so foreign to me (“OMG Poets of the Fall are coming to Bangalore” “How can you not know what Autobots are?” “I can’t really understand Tamil movies” and so on).
Anyway, I watched Thani Oruvan. And I had fun! I have a few thoughts about the movie, and since I find myself unable to string them together in any cohesive way, I shall take the lazy way out and make a list.
- I enjoyed the opening sequence, which helps us understand the villain a little bit better; his evil nature isn’t something that sprouted suddenly precisely for the hero to vanquish, he is made that way. All of 15, he is able to strategise and kill someone (though we do not know this until much later). I think it is fairly common for the hero to have a backstory; either a tragic past such as a family member brutally murdered by the villain, or the father giving out nuggets of wisdom to the son in the form of pithy one-liners, such as “Live life the way you want to!” or “Carpe diem!”. Okay, I apologize for that. Even GVM has not yet made his father characters speak in Latin aphorisms.
- The hero is not an all-round nice guy either. He is single minded in his pursuit of the enemy, which sometimes makes him behave in a selfish or unfeeling manner. He asks his (girl)friend to act as bait in a dangerous operation, he is reckless and does not think of what he could mean to those who care for him.
- Mahima (Nayanthara) and her friends are shown having fun on a train, enroute to their Civil Services training. Mahima’s friends want to drink (after they come across a group of boys with a large stash of alcohol). So they devise a plan to get the boys to part with their alcohol (pretending to be police officers and threatening to charge them with rape cases). The boys leave in haste, and the girls exchange high-fives (or whatever). I was curious to see what would happen next. Would Mahima drink? She doesn’t. She goes back to her berth and instructs her friends to be done with it quickly. Oh how disappointing! Will Arima Nambi be the only movie that didn’t judge a woman too much for drinking? At the end of this sequence, Mahima also has to endure a lecture from Mithran (Jayam Ravi) on how she set a bad example for the children in the train by trivializing rape. Mithran may have a point there, but really, is “delivering sermons” part of the job description if you want to be a hero in Tamil movies? I was reminded of something an acquaintance told me recently: When I see women sitting in bars, I feel a sense of shame. For further insight, do watch the song Club le Mabbu le by Hip Hop Tamizha. But I have decided not to feel too annoyed about this (and the two atrocious songs Mahima gets), because she contributes to the story moving forward (unlike Kajal Aggarwal in…every movie). She is a forensics expert and she has a nice scene where she tests a couple of objects in Mithran’s house for Siddharth Abhimanyu’s (Arvind Swamy) fingerprints.
- There were some moments I loved! When Mithran discovers where his friend hid the memory card (inside the wooden stick with which he was beaten), how Mithran finds out that the bug is placed inside his body, how Mithran manipulates the video evidence he has to frame Siddharth, Sidharth’s small smile as he listens to Mithran’s plans, his conversations with his father (as an aside – is Thambi Ramaiah everywhere?!), how some quick thinking on Mithran’s part stops Sidharth from stabbing his girlfriend. Even the final scene when Sidharth is shot – I didn’t see it happening the way it did.
- Last point, I promise. I was not able to convince myself completely that Jayam Ravi is indeed Mithran. Could it be that he isn’t intense enough? Or that he sounds the same irrespective of what he speaks? I don’t want to be mean, but I did feel like laughing at times. Especially when he and Ganesh Venkatraman talk police-stuff. But maybe the latter was chosen so that we can realize over and over that even Jayam Ravi is more believable as a police officer. 😛