What makes Jigarthanda so special? Here are my thoughts about the recipe for the movie, penned down in chronological order as per the running structure of the film. (Contains Spoilers)
Here is the link to Part-1 of this article
The nerve-wracking ‘Game of Thrones’
You have been warned. “When you play the GOT, you win or you die”
Karthik Subbaraj’s dazzling writing prowess blends with some top-notch technical assistance from cinematographer Gavemic and editor Vivek (akin to milk, china-grass and nannaari syrup in Jigarthanda) to make this segment of the movie delicious, yet brimming with raw gritty nervous energy. Karthik stages a couple of convincing incidents to get Sethu suspicious of a clandestine spy shadowing on him. Lo and behold, the game of thrones swings into motion and the tension is gradually mounted as Karthik Subbaraj makes an attack on Sethu seem imminent. In this tense atmosphere, he again brilliantly sneaks in a ridiculously funny segment where Sid and Karan get caught spying on Sethu’s house. Karunakaran in particular is at his hilarious best in this scene, completely overshadowing Sid with his impeccable timing in slapstick. This segment results in a young enthusiastic chap (Soundar) from the gangster gang being called upon to have an eye on Sid and Karan. While this prospect has us expecting some hard-core action, Subbaraj utilizes it initially for extracting some nervous chuckles. Intelligent! Somewhere in between these riotous scenes, when we are least expecting it, Karthik once again unleashes the trickster in him, in style.
The chef-d’oevre sequence
In probably Karthik’s master-scene, Gavemic’s camera shows the gangster gang sharing a loud joke in a theater canteen, while Sethu gets up with a bhajji in hand and starts walking. The camera follows him as he makes small-talk with a cook and proceeds to take a plate to protect himself from the rains as he crosses over to the adjacent theater premises. The tense unease keeps scaling as the camera still follows him through the hall’s passage to the toilet, where he meets the cleaner. Still nothing. We wait in bated breath for the scene to explode. But not yet! Where is Karthik leading us to? A vomiting alcoholic is about to get thrashed. Is it? No. Then it happens. We stare astonished at the pomposity of the scene, and the way the scriptwriter in Karthik has staged it in the background of the “Ennadi Meenaatchi” track from ‘Ninaithalae Inikum’. And after a minute of mixed emotions, when Sethu nonchalantly proceeds to do the ‘thing’ he came for, we just can’t help but clap at the brilliance we have just witnessed. Simha makes it look so easy and believable, and it has grandly served its purpose. We are hooked, surrendering ourselves to the mastery.
‘Deception’ – Level: Awesome
The master of deception in Karthik starts to take over slowly. On befriending ‘Soundar’ from the gang, Sid hides a spy mike inside his MP3 player after coming to know that the chap has been called upon for accompanying Sethu for an ‘event’. Here again, the detailing is top-notch as the ‘shadow-trail’ is triggered into action. The sketch to murder Sethu’s rival Sekar is so convincingly pitched that even with our now heightened cop instincts, we fail to doubt it. Now, Sekar has to make an escape! But Karthik doesn’t want an inch of lazy film-making in his frames and hence what we get is a hint of a bizarre half-orgy, which has us pondering over the countless possibilities it opens up for the next scene. But then, in a moment of sudden reveal, the tables are turned and we gape at our glorious deception. Having been royally cheated, we turn our attention to the plight of Sid and Karan, who have been eavesdropping on these events through the spy-mike. But the awesomeness of that sequence is not over yet. In another esoteric and superbly offbeat moment, Sethu wearing a Leonardo mask himself, returns the favour to Sekar. Now if that’s not genius, what is?
The electrifying mid-point
Karthik wants to heighten the tension a notch higher and raise the stakes of the protagonist. What better way to do it than have Simha (playing Sethu) converse directly over the microphone to Sid. Sparks fly and incessant claps mask the words, as Simha in a tight close-up once again proves why he is such a versatile actor. His eyes speak volumes and his tainted teeth grit in anger, as he figures out the people behind the spy job. And the inevitable happens within minutes. Santhosh Narayanan and Gavemic make this sequence stirringly ‘Tarantinoesque’ with an outré background score and awe-inspiring visuals. As Sid and Karan trying to make an escape, are greeted at the door by Sethu’s gang, our pulses go racing to one twenty beats per minute. And as the letters ‘Intermission’ pops out of the gun with a whistle, Karthik Subbaraj can take pride in making our hearts pop out to our mouths.
The ‘real’ con-job begins
In a unique demonstration of one of the best con-jobs ever done on a cinematic audience, Karthik Subbaraj pulls off an extreme sort of irreverent hilarity on us, the unsuspecting spectators, especially after a nail-biting interval segment. Personally, when Sid and Karan lure Sethu into being excited at the prospect of a feature film based on him, I found it quite convincing (at least at this moment, especially with the ‘Thalapathi’ reference and all). Karthik uses this platform to create an uproarious interview segment with the gang facing a mounted DSLR. This did offend the rationalist in me for a while, but the explanation that Sethu was blinded by a strong yearning for fame sounded quite persuasive. Here again, the unapologetic tone with which Karthik Subbaraj continues to portray his protagonist surprised me. Sid wants real crime events for his script and he doesn’t give two hoots about the appalling nature of the offences, narrated to him by Sethu and his gang. He even breaks into a broad smile as he fixes Vijay Sethupathy as Sethu in his mind, and lets the events narrated by Sethu play out in his mind as an organised screenplay.
Irreverent humour, brilliantly unleashed!
The character delineation of Sethu is set up from an interesting incident in his school days, which later comes across as an extremely smart move by the director. The writing is exquisite in these Sid’s script-writing sequences, with some spine-chilling dialogues delivered in a comic tone. Simha as Sethu lives up to his part and Santhosh provides the necessary mood with his quirky ‘Thanda’ soundtrack. Two absolute gems in ‘black comedy’ in this segment, one involving Sid asking Sethu to infuse some real action into a Panchayat scene while filming it for his reference and the other involving a charge-drained camera, delve deep into the character of Sid, in addition to bringing down the roof with laughter. Karthik writes arguably the best hilarity of all, when he doesn’t spare even the Russian roulette in his spoof. In yet another side-splitting scene, Karunakaran and Simha are at their rocking best when the former gets his throat almost split. Writing comedy is no mean task, and the element of surprise is what makes it click. Surprise, yes! Both the scriptwriter and the con-man in Karthik are in their elements as he slowly steers the story away from our imagination.
To be continued…