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Etharkkum Thunindhavan review: Why, Suriya, why?

Etharkkum Thunindhavan review: This is Suriya's first theatrical release in three years. At best, it feels like a rush job that whittles down a terrible real-life crime to the lowest common denominator.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru |
Updated: March 12, 2022 12:57:13 am
Suriya in Etharkkum Thunindhavan.

Etharkkum Thunindhavan begins with Suriya‘s Kannabiran slaughtering a group of men inside an abandoned godown. The godown is locked from inside, which means nobody from the outside can know what is happening. That’s why it is so confusing when Kannabiran’s mother receives a phone call at her home. And the person on the other side is giving a running commentary to her about the number of people who are being killed by Kannabiran. “What, my son killed 2 people?”, she asks on the phone in shock. “What again, he has killed five people now?”

Who is this person who is giving her a wicket-by-wicket update about her son’s crimes that are being committed behind closed doors? We don’t know. Maybe even director Pandiraj doesn’t know. He perhaps never gave much thought to this faceless character with a magical vision while planning this movie. Not just the scene in question, it is safe to say Pandiraj hasn’t put any thought into the movie itself.

Kannabiran’s father, played by Sathyaraj, for example, in a moment of despair and grief, recalls, “My son wanted to be a scientist. I wanted him to be something else. But, fate and God made him like this.” It makes no sense or has any relevance to the story. If we buy into the pain of Kannabiran’s father, then the film needs to explain why a wannabe scientist settled for a career as a lawyer. Kannabiran’s only “scientific” talent is his ability to unlock vehicles without keys. And yes, he also helps girls download Kavalan SOS app on their smartphones. That’s as far as Kannabiran’s aptitude as a man of science and technology goes. Judging from the way he argued a critical case in the movie, he doesn’t even have what it takes to be a successful advocate.

And hence taking the fall for others becomes Kannabiran’s only redeeming quality, as a hero. He is so shallow and dated, his characterization is a joke in the face of the sensible, and morally strong persona of Suriya.

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The movie is about an influential man, Inba (Vinay Rai), who uses young boys to lure college-going girls into relationships, and then exploits the girls to curry favours with powerful men. This is inspired by the 2019 Pollachi sexual assault case, which involved rapes and extortion from young women.

Director Pandiraj turns this traumatic crime into short bursts of melodrama. At end of all that, one may be left wondering what the film is trying to say? Especially the climax scene, which plays out like a poorly written Mexican stand-off, and turns unintentionally funny.

Etharkkum Thunindhavan is Suriya’s first theatrical release in three years. He should have been very careful in selecting the movie for his theatrical comeback, as he needs to preserve the formidable reputation he has managed to carve for himself with movies like Soorarai Pottru and Jai Bhim. At best, Etharkkum Thunindhavan feels like a rush job that whittles down a terrible real-life crime to the lowest common denominator.

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First published on: 10-03-2022 at 12:48:32 pm

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