Since the time AR Murugadoss’s Ghajini (Thamizh) released, I have developed a certain kind of admiration for this director, which may be hard to describe or put in words. He continued to impress me with both the hindi version of Ghajini and 7am Arivu, although the latter wasn’t well received in the box office. Of late, I have watched Citizen and Ramana, both of which in retrospect are good movies in their own right, and pretty much reaffirm my admiration for ARM’s amazing control of the medium.
Seldom do we come across a movie maker who understands the most basic need to last long in the Thamizh movie industry, which is to provide box office hits at regular intervals. At least for a certain period of time, after which your past could help you carry you through for a few years, even if your current movies are not so successful at the BO. Shankar, according to me was the first one who transformed the approach to making such box office hots (aka masala movies). He stamped over the old school ‘masala’ films approach and created a new genre of big scale entertainers, which are not only stylish but also have certain elements that catered to the slightly intellectually inquisitive audience. And of course, with every new movie he makes, his scale keeps getting bigger. The problem with that is that at some point, he could find it hard to balance the commercial equation. Or may be, he will reinvent himself before that. AR Murugadoss came along somewhere during this period and has managed to create a niche for himself, using some of Shankar’s approach combined with his own style of making his stories work.
So, when Thuppakki was released, I had no doubt in my mind that I should check it out in theaters. Vijay, who is currently going through a rebranding phase himself, was not going to deter me and in fact, only motivated me in making me watch this movie sooner. At the outset, the movie was much more than what I went into the theater expecting. The story in summary is that of the hero, an Indian army soldier (who also is part of the intel group), who accidentally bumps into certain sleeper cell activities in Mumbai, while on his annual vacation and how he manages to outsmart the main terrorist behind these sleeper cells to eventually decimate him – all in a stylish way, which I come to expect of AR Murugadoss.
And the parts that worked much better than what I expected were:
1) The narration around how the hero goes about unearthing the sleeper cell activities. (Especially a 30 minute sequence in the script stands out as a great lesson to be learnt for filmmakers..)
2) Overall production values – Santosh Sivan made such a huge difference.
3) Vijay’s subtle performance.
Without delving deeper into the plot, I will conclude this by saying that this Thuppakki rarely fires blanks and is mostly on target.