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Jagame Thandhiram Is Thunderously Awful

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Jagame Thandhiram Is Thunderously Awful 5

Jagame Thandhiram(Tamil, Netflix)

Starring Dhanush, Aishwarya Lekshmi ,James Cosmo,Joju George and Kalaiyarasan

Written  & Directed  by Karthik Subbaraj

Rating: * ½

Anticipating a  huge multi-ethnic  response I believe  Netflix has dubbed  Dhanush’s latest film Jagame Thandiram into  a multiple languages. But  alas,not Chinese.  China deserves this violent gift  of the grab more than any other people. They have earned it.

As for the rest of civilization  as we suffer through this 2 ½ hour torture, we  can only  console ourselves  by thinking  we must have sinned  really awfully to have to be subjected to this. Jaga

me Thandiram is  your worst cinematic nightmare come  true. It is  loud, boorish,  uncouth and splashy. And  it dares  to cloak all its creepy kitsch in a  message on Tamil  immigrants’ plight  in London where according to  this  film, they are welcomed with open arms …and ammunition.

If we are  to believe this  outlandish heretical  fling into  feverish  fights, staged  as though  the  film’s life depended on  them, the Tamilians in London are heavily into gangsterism.

 At  the  very outset  our hero  Suruli(Dhanush) is  a parotta selling eatery owner in Madurai moonlighting as a gangster who is summoned to London by a  British goon Peter Sprott(James Cosmo). Don’t as how, or why. I have no clue.

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   From these bristling beginnings we can  clearly see that director Karthik Subbaraj thinks brutal  killings are funny.When we  first see Peter he  bludgeons a woman to death and  then  wipes his scarf  cribbing it was “pure cashmere”.This can be counted as  the  only “pure” moment in a film that legalizes  fraudulence  and legitimizes ethnic  violence .

  What  makes the  violence deeply disturbing is  the  half-baked laughably  lowbrow and shallow  introduction  into the plot of  the ethnic violence that  killed or expelled Tamilians  from Sri Lanka in the 1980-90s.

 In a film as  kitschy as  this, any  stab  at  politics  is purely a hoax. Subbaraj and Dhanush  hardly seem  interested  in the plight  of the Tamilian migrants  in London as anything anything but a tool to  plough the  plot with seeds  of melodramatic discontent. The  shoot-outs  involving ethnic  minorities and  British gangs are  shout-outs to  loud  comicbook violence.

   Formulizing  a deeply sensitive  political issue  for some quick kicks  and  stolen  grunts is  a deeply offensive ploy, and  eminently avoidable.To watch an actor of  Dhanush’s stature fall for this  bleeding-heart  ruse that  backfires, killing any claims  to credibility that the  film may make, is embarrassing, to say the least.What was  the actor thinking?

 The love-at-first-sight-thesis-comes-with-a-price  theme plays itself out with a sheath  of accompanying melodrama. Aishwarya Rajesh playing  Dahnush’s  Sri Lankan Tamilian beloved , comes with  a screechy clumsily shot backstory with no claims to  any seriousness.The couple claims to be in love when all around them,  London is painted a fiery blood-red colour by a director whose inspiration seems to  be Tarantino and Mani Ratnam. Violent shoot-outs are staged as  homages to the former while  the frequent songs  and dances  honour Ratnam .

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Ambition here is  definitely not  a tool of  inspired  storytelling . Dhanush as the kingpin of  ‘Little Madurai’ in London goes comic and quirky with  risible results. What a comedown  after his last film the masterly Karnan!

   From the  supporting cast Joju George(brilliant in  the Malayalam  Nayattu)   as   London’s Tamil population’s messiah is  as  convincing   as  the script allows him to be, while  archvillain James Cosmos ends  up as  caricature  of a  xenophobic.

“A  rupee is  a lot sexier  than a  pound,” says  Dhanush. Don’t know  about that.  But there  is  nothing sexy about a  film that trivializes  ethnic violence and boils it down to a  bland bloody  formula.

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