October 12, 2021 6:52:05 pm
Nelson Dilipkumar’s protagonist, Varun, in Doctor is not your typical Tamil masala film hero. He is not even a character that Sivakarthikeyan typically plays in his movies. In fact, Varun’s personality is diametrically opposite to Sivakarthikeyan usual characters. Varun is stoic; he is indifferent to humour and romance and inexpressive in the face of certain death. He talks succinctly and when he speaks, he utters only hard facts. The only quality that’s cinematic about Varun is that he’s selflessly brave.
Varun takes the pressure off Sivakarthikeyan as the latter doesn’t have to worry about being the ‘star’ responsible for providing entertainment in the film. While Sivakarthikeyan stands aloof, his co-actors wonderfully take care of the humour, which is the highlight of this caper.
Nelson understands that just because Sivakarthikeyan is the star of the show, it doesn’t mean other actors can’t shine in the movie. And that’s a good thing. The director ensures that the audience gets their money’s worth by creating these quirky and unique supporting characters, who, at times, outshine Sivakarthikeyan.
You buy the ticket for the star and step out of theatres with a handful of other favourite actors. That’s a sign of a director who knows how to make wholesome entertainment well within the limitations of a traditional Tamil masala film.
A director’s integrity can be gauged by the way he treats supporting characters in the film, especially the comedy actors. Is he trying to construct the jokes around the looks of his actors? That’s dull, unoriginal and to a great extent unkind to the actors and the audience. Or he’s doing something inventive and innovative that get laughs without belittling the comedians?
Nelson has proved again he’s someone who knows how to treat comedians with respect in his movies. Take, for example, Redin Kingsley, who is becoming a sort of lucky charm and permanent presence in Nelson’s movies. He is punching above his weight in the film as Bhagat and there is a built-in humour in the very situation. We are not laughing at Bhagat’s short and frail physique but the humour stems from Bhagat’s unwavering ambition to stand out in a room full of people who tower over him physically.
Yogi Babu, whose unkempt looks are often treated as an object of crude humour, also gets a different treatment in Doctor. His character is valued for his expertise and gets to take down more goons than Sivakarthikeyan’s Varun.
Nelson also deserves praise for expertly using Deepa Shankar’s impeccable comedy timing. A big star on small screens, she is yet to get her due in mainstream movies. Hope Doctor draws attention to Deepa’s underused talent.
Not just comedians, even villains get their moments to shine. Vinay Rai’s presence as Terry adds appeal to the movie. Unlike other villains, Terry is usually calm, composed, smart and calculative. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t make mistakes of old-school villains, like killing his own henchmen for bearing bad news. And yet, there is dignity to his dubiousness. The ‘Roadies’ twins Raghu Ram and Rajiv Lakshman finally get to make a dignified and notable appearance in a movie with Doctor. Remember them in Tees Maar Khan? Don’t worry, nobody does.
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