Newton’s famous third law of motion states that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”, one of the more fascinating things that I learnt in school in Physics which I still remember and also appreciate. While the law perhaps might be referring more to a scientific viewpoint, I have always felt that there could be takeaway for the same in terms of life as well. Have you ever wondered what would our life be like if it wasn’t balanced? Would you appreciate a life full of downs and no ups & vice versa? Would you appreciate the very concept of happiness if you didn’t experience sadness in the first place? For every rich man there has to be one or more poor people as well. I can go and on, but the fact remains that to have a good life one has to have a balance between everything. Similarly when you come to a movie which clearly involves a specific protagonist and antagonist, then they better be well matched for each other, or else it would remain simply a one sided game. If I consider myself from an audience view point I’d feel terrible if the antagonist hardly measures up to the protagonist.
If you are wondering why I am writing all this when I should be reviewing M.Raja’s Thani Oruvan, hang on as all this is nothing but a preamble to the whole thing. I was quite surprised when I first heard of Thani Oruvan and my instant reaction was-“so which film has he remade this time around”? Well this is but a natural reaction as M.Raja has predominantly made a mark for himself by mostly remaking successful Telugu films in Tamil, a lot of them featuring his brother, Jayam Ravi in the lead. But the teaser and subsequently the trailer definitely looked promising; it also portrayed Arvind Swamy in a stylish avatar. No wonder I told myself that it would be great if the film actually works and if M.Raja manages to make a mark with what seemed to be his first original film. But nothing, simply nothing prepared me for the kind of avalanche that the film has turned out to be going by the response it has received.
As the film begins we get to see Senkalvarayan (Thambi Ramaiah), a political party worker who is totally devoted to the party chief (Nassar). Senkalvarayan’s wife gives birth to Pazhani in the car of the party leader & fifteen years later when Pazhani tops the State in the X standard exams; his father takes him to meet the party chief. But to their dismay they witness a murder in front of them as the party leader in a fit of rage knocks down a rebel candidate. As the party chief begs Senkalvarayan to take the blame and go to jail on his behalf, Pazhani agrees to take the blame instead & in return asks for his dad to be made an MLA. Years pass and the party chief is now the Chief Minister while Senkalvarayan is a minister as well. Pazhani in course of time has metamorphosed into the suave, smart and cunning Siddharth Abhimanyu (Arvind Swamy), a successful scientist and businessman. On the other hand we have Mithran (Jayam Ravi) a trainee IPS officer whose only aim is to become a top cop and battle a truly worthy adversary and he zeroes down upon Siddharth Abhimanyu as he takes up his IPS posting in Chennai. What follows is an interesting cat and mouse game, which leaves the audience glued to their seats right till the end.
Having collaborated with noted writer duo Subha in his earlier film Velayudham (for dialogues alone), this time M.Raja brings the writer duo on board as co-writers for the screenplay as well and the impact delivered is there to see. Easily one of Subha’s more accomplished film works, Thani Oruvan succeeds in opening on an interesting note and ensuring that the viewer is kept engaged completely. The characters are well etched, both Mithran and Siddharth Abhimanyu are interesting characters, both having an obsession of varying degrees which keeps them going. Also its good to see Mithran turning out as someone who gets behind Siddarth Abhimanyu with a clear & precise reason. Even the portions where we see Mithran and his friends taking up the task of a vigilante group at night is quite well thought out, in particular the way in which one of their nocturnal operations ends up linking themselves, especially Mithran with Siddharth Abhimanyu is quite well done.
For people who are used to Hollywood action-thrillers it may be a little easy to predict the direction in which the tale is headed, but nevertheless for a Tamil film, Thani Oruvan packs quite a punch. The 2 main characters, Mithran and Siddharth Abhimanyu have just 2-3 scenes with each other, but they are always thinking of each other and that has been depicted quite interestingly. This film clearly proves that for an action film to succeed especially the protagonist should have an interesting adversary, someone who not just physically looks convincing but also is a strong enough character on his/her own. Here Siddharth Abhimanyu is more than a match to Mithran, the character is well etched and leaves no room for any doubts whatsoever on the effectiveness to the plot. In recent times I can easily say that Siddharth Abhimanyu is easily one of the most suave and dashing antagonists seen in Tamil Cinema.
The film has been stylishly shot by DOP Ramji and is perhaps one of the last Tamil films to be shot on film. Despite its run time of 160 minutes, there’s never a dull moment in the film and credit certainly goes to editor Gopikrishna for maintaining a tight pace in this film. Hiphop Tamizha’s music is ok, just that the film really doesn’t have the scope for typical song & dance routine, kudos to the director for also ensuring that the songs do not hamper the narrative much. The film has a good star cast and includes prominent actors from Telugu, Malayalam and even Hindi cinema. Vamsi Krishna, Nagineedu, Anil Murali and Saiju Kurup play the standard villains, with Vamsi Krishna getting the meatier role of them all. Mugdha Ghodse makes her entry into Tamil cinema as the girlfriend of Siddharth Abhimanyu, but it is more of a cameo and she is apt for the same. Nassar is a delight as always while Thambi Ramaiah is excellent as Sengalvarayan who rises up to the position of a minister but is dependent upon his son for everything. Ganesh Venkatraman, Sricharan, Harish Uthaman and Rahul Madhav play the friends and fellow IPS trainee officers with Mithran, but out of them only Rahul Madhav gets reasonably noticed.
Nayantara who plays Mahima the love interest of Mithran may not have much screen time, but nevertheless has a crucial role in the film. In particular I liked the scene where Mithran coneys his love to her and also when she motivates him at a low point of his. It’s good to see some thought being developed into building up her character; it’s not often that one sees the heroine cast in an interesting profession as forensic science, thankfully Thani Oruvan is a welcome change in this aspect. Jayam Ravi has been having a good run this year at the box office and while Romeo Juliet and Sakalakala Vallavan Appatakkar may have had their fair share of detractors, with Thani Oruvan he has more than made up for it by being part of a wonderful entertainer. While the role of Mithran is something that would have been more suited for a relatively more popular and better actor, it’s encouraging to see the brothers; Raja and Ravi back each other, the result being very positive for the film.
Arvind Swamy who had made a comeback after a long hiatus with Mani Ratnam’s Kadal (2013) has actually returned to the limelight in the right sense with Thani Oruvan. The film wouldn’t have worked and succeeded without a strong antagonist and Arvind Swamy is marvellous as the ambitious Siddharth Abhimanyu. In a parallel universe I’d probably assume a reversal of sorts, with Siddharth being the protagonist and Mithran, being the antagonist, that’s how equally important both these characters are to the film. Which makes me go back to Newton’s third law of motion, for every Mithran, there has to be a Siddharth Abhimanyu and that’s what makes a film like Thani Oruvan work I feel. M.Raja eventually has to be lauded for delivering a classy commercial entertainer with all the ingredients in the right proportion. He has also given us a villain for whom the audience will root for, not something that easily seen in Tamil films.
Go watch Thani Oruvan, it is an enjoyable ride all the way.