Forged: Suriya, Priyanka Mohan
About 10 minutes into the Pandiraj movie Etharkkum Thunindhavan — that the makers inexplicable insist is healthier known as ET — there’s a voiceover introducing two warring villages. They’re warring as a result of a girl belonging to at least one village, married to a person from the opposite, died by suicide following a familial dispute. The girl’s neighborhood beats up her husband. Suriya, who belongs to the husband’s neighborhood, smashes the skulls of the latter’s attackers. This protector of his individuals, allegedly stopping violence following her suicide, indulges within the struggle in absolute glee. He can barely management his smirk, he walks in slow-mo, swings his punches in type, stays on each punch only a second longer to let the viewers cherish it.
This occurs in each struggle. Essentially the most jarring one comes whereas rescuing a girl from her molesters. Even then, Kannabiran (Suriya) makes his delight within the violence abundantly recognized. Author-director Pandiraj needs us to consider that the violence is justified. He provides paragraphs of dialogues insisting so: “Naan kola pannala, kalai edukkaren” (I’m not killing individuals, simply clearing weeds) Kannabiran insists at one level. But, the stunt sequences are designed to titillate — and man, titillate they do.
What works for Etharkkum Thunindhavan is that the motion sequences are written properly. As an illustration, simply across the interval block, there’s a ponna kadatharom (kidnap the bride) sequence. Kannabiran goes to kidnap his girlfriend Adhini (a nebulous Priyanka Mohan) on the village temple pageant. There may be barely any narrative battle as a result of the one certainly one of consequence towards the union is the bride’s father, who it has been adequately established is an oppukku chappani (a lame duck, for those who’ll forgive my very unfastened translation). But, Pandiraj levels this with relative grandeur. He makes it as taut as it may be given the shortchanged items he’s acquired available. The twist ultimately lands, virtually endearing as it’s satisfying — maybe a lot credit score for that ought to go to Suriya’s picture and allure. This will also be stated of the whole third act. They’re clearly not mindblowing and even particularly intelligent; however they’re satisfying and maintain you guessing. Pandiraj does a splendid job of preserving you sufficient to guess what’s going to occur subsequent. And he delivers on the surprises.
In case you set the titillation of set items apart — not saying they’re not essential or good cinema, simply that they’re not sufficient — Etharkkum Thunindhavan is empty. It’s the story of Kannabiran, a beloved son, mild lover, lawyer, feminist ally, avenue fighter, neighborhood protector, even a mini-local mafia don who kidnaps and tortures individuals for data. It is usually the story of Inba, a wealthy, suave assassin with political clout, who oversees the kidnap and rape of younger ladies, videographs it, and makes use of it to blackmail them. You’d anticipate that sooner or later these two tales cross paths and fireworks occur. However they don’t.
Over 2.5 hours, random incidents happen as an alternative — two ridiculously misplaced songs wherein Suriya is in weird wigs and costume, a romance observe impressed by WhatsApp cons, proof that Kannabiran is a “scientist,” the piss-poor bonding scenes between him and his mom (an intermittently charming Saranya Ponvannan), thinly veiled crimson herrings and the like. Similar to Pandiraj’s Kathakali, by the point the core of the movie catches up, we’re already exhausted and stressed.
Even throughout these lengthy minutes, there’s hardly any dialog in Etharkkum Thunindhavan. The whole lot is an exposition. Throughout Adhini’s most susceptible second, she and Kannabiran launch right into a lecture. Thank god they aren’t lecturing to the digital camera — truly, scratch that, they quickly do — however they’re immediately flying into the ‘ethical of the story’ zone on a regular basis. On the planet of ET, there isn’t a area for vulnerability and even emotions; solely fixed reassertion of ethical authority.
This obsession with morality can be Etharkkum Thunindhavan’s largest letdown. As a result of the movie is so certain of its ethical highground that it barely considers its arguments. At one level, a personality asks and I paraphrase, “judges sentence criminals to demise on a regular basis. Is that homicide?” Earlier than you reply with a powerful sure, you realise that the query was rhetorical. As a result of the character quickly provides that it isn’t homicide, so Kannabiran’s serial killing isn’t both. All through the third act, numerous individuals maintain asserting, “ivangalukku vaazhave thagudhi illa” (they don’t need to dwell). I’m itching to ask who died and made Kannabiran god, however that may be inappropriate as a result of ladies truly die within the movie and ask Kannabiran to avenge them. Await the post-credits sequence to study that the dwelling ones additionally assume he’s god, not simply godsend.
This god advanced comes at the price of the well-meaning message the movie needs you to consider it conveys. Pandiraj makes characters say in as many phrases that clandestinely shot movies of girls is just not their fault, however the abusers’. But, he additionally makes Kannabiran exit of his technique to cease these movies from going public to “save the girl’s honour.” “Yevan kattippan” (who will marry her), they maintain asking, concerning the futures of those ladies. Victims of such abuse maintain pleading Kannabiran to cease the movies from going public, they weep in horror. There may be additionally an inappropriately staged and fully pointless flashback about Kannabiran’s sister and baby rape, which is introduced because the motivation for him to guard each lady he deems sisterly.
Then again, at a lighter second, Kannabiran’s mom confidently guarantees that she didn’t elevate him to be the form of man who has premarital intercourse. There’s a glint of delight in it. Even the Etharkkum Thunindhavan (which accurately means one who dares to do something) doesn’t dare to train his rights over his personal physique. Pandiraj needs us to simply accept that there’s a restrict to private freedom. There’s a boundary to feminism. Regardless of its grand assertion of ethical readability, Etharkkum Thunindhavan is simply hypocritical posturing — it says one thing and does one thing diametrically reverse.
And it doesn’t assist that Suriya feels miscast as Kannabiran. The speech, physique language, mannerisms, and naughtiness really feel extra like Karthi’s zone. Suriya is just too stiff to be goofy, too upright to be shady, too clear-headed to be susceptible. He’s at his finest when he’s being the morally unambiguous vigilante, however can barely be convincing as the sexy younger man speeding to a song-and-dance present. This makes it appear as if Suriya is strolling out and in of character, making Etharkkum Thunindhavan an total powerful watch.