A solid original story idea , meshing folk theatre with a migratory drama , could have made for a far more engrossing film than debutant director Ashok Veerappan’s Buffoon actually is. Sadly Buffoon is not able to crystallize its plot into the grand political thriller that it purports to be.
The film,now streaming on Netflix, work in fits and starts, sometimes touching rockbottom in its plotting devices(a character disappears and later joins the plot as if he had taken a loo break) at other times hitting unexpectedly high notes , with the result that we are left watching a spasmodic symphony of desperate disparate sound and misplaced fury signifying something far less crucial than what it was meant to.
Kumaran(Vaibhav) and his sidekick-friend Muthaiya(Anthakudi Ilayaraja) are folk artistes in a village play . Their skits are filled with double-meaning jokes about well-oiled arrows piercing their intended target. Kumar and Muthaiya are determined to flee. This is where they unwittingly get into a life of crime when a truck loaded with drugs has to be driven across the border by our singularly brainless hero and his companion who despite evidence to the contrary is a little more sensible than the hero.
After a clumsy chase the pair seeks to escape to a foreign country with the help of a Sri Lankan refugee Ilaayal(Anagha).
The canvas is over-cluttered with incidents and characters all adding up to mélange of chaotic plot points which do not add up to anything substantial. The screenplay could have taken up the plight of refugees in Tamil Nadu.The refugee heroine Ilaayal’s harassment by a local cop is a highpoint in the narrative.
Before one can ingest the highpoints, the film quickly moves on. Parts of the film seem to mimic Jacques Audiard’s Deepan . But soon after one idea emerges from the chaos, the writing moves to another. From the look of it, Ashok Veerappan is more interested in carving out a thriller from the chaotic blueprint of the plot than in holding any serious discussion on immigrants’ right.
The theme of folk culture being obviated by restless performers who want to make a better life for themselves , is also not explored in any detail, although the unknown actor playing Kumaran’s father is memorable as a fading folk artiste who can’t persuade his son to continue with the family tradition.
Very quickly , Buffoon folds up its tent to focus on being a chase thriller, with a cop Haridas (Tamilrasan) determined to nab Kumaran and his friend Ilayaraja while the pair run for their lives.
This film is neither exciting enough for us to bear its predictable storyline nor innovative enough to keep us watching.Although the plot eventually comes to a boil there isn’t a sizzle strong enough to make the dish gambol of from bland to grand.
The cast works mainly for its unknown faces. There is one recognizable actor Joju George who makes a guest appearance. All the other characters constantly keep talking about him, so that by the time Joju appears on screen one almost expects him to do somersaults over skyscrapers.Buffoon simplifies the good hero-bad hero arc for the audience while progressively crowding and cluttering the plot.