Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Radha Ravi, Yogi Babu, Sayyeshaa, Madonna Sebastian, Saranya Ponvannan
One walks into a cinema because one's favourite actor or actress or director is part of a film playing there. Once, I would have never missed a Ray or a Mrinal Sen or a Ghatak or Guru Dutt work. Today, I would not let go a picture with Irrfan Khan or Abhay Deol or Madhavan or Dulquer Salman or Parvathy to name some.
So, I trooped into a theatre screening Gokul's Junga, because Vijay Sethupathi was the lead star. Honoured with a title, Makkal Selvan (People's Dear), Sethupathi is undoubtedly a great artist, with movies like Iraivi, Aandavan Kattalai and, more recently, that superb Vikram Vedha (along with Madhavan, another fascinating actor) having proved this.
But Sethupathi managed to mar his name in Junga, where he essays a third generation don, his dialogue delivery worse than ever before. I had once likened him to Marlon Brandon, who literally mumbled his way to stardom and a kind of uniqueness hardly ever seen. But in a Tamil film with highly intrusive background score – which is absent in a Hollywood or an European work – Sethupathi's words appeared so garbled that it was impossible to understand what he was saying. And there were no subtitles to aid us.
Worse, the movie was a canvas of sheer madness. Junga (Sethupathi) is a bus conductor and Yo Yo (Yogi Babu) his assistant. But Junga has the liberty to love a fellow passenger, Madonna Sebastian as a Telugu girl! He even sings a duet with her, all of which would be considered highly improper in today's times. Junga forgets the girl once his mother (a sensitive actress, Saranya Ponvannan, reprising the role for the umpteenth time, and what a waste of talent) tells him that he is the descendant of a don, and that his father and grandfather squandered their loot, including a theatre in Chennai, on sheer debauchery. So, our man, Junga, goes to Chennai to reclaim the hall, and meets the benami owner, Sopraj (Radha Ravi with that deadly name and an appearance which resembles Godfather's Marlon Brando!), who says no and goes about demolishing the theatre in order to build a multiplex.
And now comes the craziest part of the movie: Someone tells Junga that the best way to teach Sopraj a lesson is to kidnap his daughter, Yazhini ( Sayyeshaa). But she lives in Paris, not the Parrys in Chennai, and after making a fool of himself, Junga reaches the French capital, where Yazhini lives in luxury as an opera singer (!!!) guarded by dozens of menacing men in white.
The film has more madness rolling in – and all in the name of entertainment, replete with dances and songs which stick out like sore thumbs.
Finally, I felt sad that Sethupathi after memorable works, has had to stoop so low to portray a character, shallow to the core. Time he took pains to improve his delivery and choice of scripts.