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Buffoon Could Have Been So Much More Than What It Eventually Is



Buffoon(Tamil, Netflix)

Rating: **

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.

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