Apr 24 2012
While Manirathnam has tackled a variety of subjects, most of the director’s films have been driven by emotions rising from strong relationships(even Agni Natchathiram, which can be counted as a masala film, was based on the enmity between stepbrothers). So Thirudaa Thirudaa, a light-hearted, full-length action-comedy, is a departure of sorts for the director. The top-notch technical aspects ensure that the action parts are good but some bad casting choices and a slightly loose screenplay prevent the rest of the movie from coming up to that level.
TT Vikram(Salim Ghouse), who lives in London, has just masterminded the robbery of Rs. 1000 crores from the train carrying the money fresh from the press. The container with the money is now on a truck and can only be opened by a computerized card, which is now in the possession of a dancer Chandralekha(Anu Agarwal), who got the card from businessman Ashok Chellaiya, Vikram’s local contact. When the CBI, led by Lakshmi Narayanan(S.P.Balasubramaniam), arrives to interrogate her, Chandralekha escapes. Meanwhile Azhagu(Prashanth) and Kathir(Anand), a couple of petty thieves, are on the run from the police with Rasathi(Heera), who tags along with them to escape marriage to her much older uncle. The three of them land up in the same train Chandralekha is in and promise to help her escape in exchange for a lot of money.
Thirudaa Thirudaa is a very ‘active’ movie in that the camera is always capturing action of some kind. The screenplay has been designed such that the characters are always either running away from something or going after something. All the main characters are either running when we see them for the first time or take off soon after(Prasanth and Anand go on the run after their robbery, Heera tags along with them, Anu escapes from the CBI, SPB runs to catch a train and Malaysia Vasudevan goes after Prashanth and Anand) and don’t stop running till the end. The non-stop movement of the screenplay doesn’t always translate to a relentless pace but the movie does feel like a adventure.
This kind of an on-the-move screenplay ensures that there is abundant action. And there is a lot of variety in the action also. The film starts and ends on a train and then there are several hand-to-hand fights, shootouts and an impressive escape from a burning house. But the greatest variety is provided in the chases as they involve at various points horses, cars, a horse-cart, a bus and an eighteen-wheeler. All of these involve nice stunts and are superbly filmed and so though the film’s lighthearted tone prevents them from being really suspenseful, they provide good thrills.
Overt comedy has never been Manirathnam’s strongpoint. While the director has made us laugh with his cute romances (like the evergreen Karthik-Revathi segment in Mouna Raagam) his attempts at direct comedy have been disasters(cases in point, the comedy tracks in both Agni Natchathiram and Idhayathai Thirudaathey). So its no surprise that barely any laughs are raised throughout Thirudaa Thirudaa. There are a couple of clever wordplays and Heera’s laments when she is abandoned or thrown into danger by Prashanth and Anand sometimes make us chuckle but the humor for the most part feels forced.
The romances usually introduce some levity into the otherwise serious proceedings in most Manirathnam films but that situation is reversed here as the romance turns out to be the serious part of the film. With all the action, it takes some time to make its appearance but leads to a love triangle when it does. Without much character exposition and with hardly any time to develop meaningful relationships, the love triangle seems abrupt and unnecessary. The best part about it ends up being the flippant tone with which it ends.
Manirathnam has always made surprising but good casting choices. He extracted the best out of Kamal, brought out the actor in Rajni, showed us that Madhavan had a rough side and made a three and a half-year-old look like a seasoned actress. So its surprising that the cast in Thirudaa Thirudaa is so weak. The main culprits are Anand and Heera. Anand is uncharismatic and stone-faced and has the same expression whether he dancing joyously or sacrificing his love. Heera just doesn’t fit the village belle role though Suhasini tries her best to help through her dubbing. Prashanth somewhat makes up for Anand with his energy and liveliness while Anu Agarwal gives off some seductive vibes. Two popular singers add some sparkle to the supporting roles. S.P.B has an easygoing nature but also manages to convey that it hides a sharp brain while ‘Malaysia’ Vasudevan adds humor to his role of the policeman who is suddenly thrust into more action than he has faced in the past.
The film’s soundtrack is considered one of A.R.Rahman’s best and with good reason. In their second collaboration after Roja, Manirathnam and ARR make the song sequences quite a treat for the eyes and ears. Veerapaandi Koattaiyile… is one for the ages with its thumping orchestration and a tune that moves effortlessly between fast and slow segments. The setting, the lighting and the choreography(the moment where Anu enters the song is terrific) are all fantastic. Those three aspects again make Chandralekha… a spectable as they transform Chennai’s museum into a dance stage. Kannum Kannum… is a fun number with Vairamuthu’s lyrics being both poetic and funny. The dance steps are simple and the cinematography is dominated by golden hues and silhouttes. Raasaathi… is carried by its tune and some humming with no other music. Puthampudhu Boomi… describes a Utopian world marvelously while Thee Thee… is beautifully staged and photographed but the lack of chemisty between Prashanth and Heera is damaging. ARR’s background score suits the film’s tone. The piece that is used at multiple pieces is very catchy while many of the other snippets complement the action sequences very well. P.C.Sreeram captures the action gloriously and as always, paints some stunning pictures on screen.
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