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Thaanaa Serndha Koottam Review: Suriya-starrer Wastes 'Special 26' Script

A great story and script like 'Special 26' has been marred beyond belief, and Shivan's idea of infusing his film with juvenile wit at every step reduces 'Thaanaa Serndha Koottam' into a meandering mishmash.

Gautaman Bhaskaran |

Updated:January 12, 2018, 4:35 PM IST
Thaanaa Serndha Koottam Review: Suriya-starrer Wastes 'Special 26' Script
A still from the film
Give a Tamil producer, writer or director Shakespeare, and he will transform it into “therukkoothu” or “nautanki”. He will make the movie loud, verbose (like a television serial) and garish. His hero and heroine will have to change the costume at every step or every turn of a song. The writer and the helmer will have to explain every action through a pile of words – as if the average Tamil viewer is dumb.

I was pained to see how Neeraj Pandey's riveting Special 26 – with Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee, Jimmy Shergill, Kajol Aggarwal and Divya Dutt – has been messed up by writer/director Vignesh Shivan in his Tamil remake, Thaanaa Serndha Koottam with Suriya in the lead.

While Pandey drew a splendidly subtle performance from a star like Akshay to present a 1980s plot, inspired by the famous 1987 Bombay Opera House heist where a group of men had posed as Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officers, Shivan borrows the story, but uses merely the core idea and embellishes it with several songs (which literally push the narrative off the track), tap dances, fight sequences, emotional tear-jerking scenes and a morally preachy climax.

But of course! Suriya cannot be seen as committing a crime, but when he does, he has to have a heart-wrenching reason, and he must take the moral high ground – or this is what I understand. But Akshay could not care, and he is no less a star than Suriya. Akshay could not be bothered about what his fans thought of his character. He was a thief in Special 26, and he had no compunctions about it. When his lover, Priya (Kajol), gently reminds him that he is but only a “chor”, he quips with a sardonic smile, “but I am not capable of doing anything else”. He does not suffer from any pangs of guilt.

But Suriya's Iniyan – who like Akshay's Ajay Ajju Singh – poses as a CBI officer after having failed to get into the force – carries his troubled conscience on his shoulders, and he has to explain why it is not wrong to rob Peter to help Paul. In the Tamil version, Iniyan is a philanthropist. Not Ajay in Special 26.

Special 26 had some lilting numbers, and its romantic track was mild, shorn of any exaggeration, and melted beautifully into the primary plot. Thaanaa Serndha Koottam has no great music to take home, is weighed down with innumerable sub-texts: we have Iniyan's father (Thambi Ramiah), a clerk in the police department , whose honesty robs the son of a CBI placement, we have a Madhu (Iniyan's girlfriend essayed by Keerthi Suresh), who looks after elderly destitute and is an epitome of charity, and we have a Kurinjivendhan (a real CBI officer, portrayed by Karthick), who fits into Bajpayee's shoes in the original, making a mockery of a part that the Hindi actor turned so memorable, and we have a Ramya Krishnan (doubling up for Kher), as a fake CBI officer, Jhansi Rani, who cannot let go her Baahubali expressions.

Undoubtedly, the casting is all wrong, and Suriya does not let himself sink into the character. He wants to play hero, which Akshay also did, but so differently and with such dignity. Suriya robs the CBI of all its decorum, behaves more like a roadside thug, punching and beating up dozens of adversaries – so unlike a CBI officer, so unlike what Akshay gave us.

Thaanaa Serndha Koottam tells us the tale of some failed men, who decide that wealth can only be had through ill-gotten means, and they go about posing as CBI officers, raiding Government Ministers, rich men and jewelers – all of whom had stashed away money made through evading taxes or bribes. Finally, Kurinjivendhan gets on their trail, and does a most unprofessional job of nabbing them. And, I cannot believe the offer he gives to Iniyan, a reward for his robberies.

Honestly, a great story and script like Special 26 have been marred beyond belief, and Shivan's idea of infusing his film with juvenile wit at every step reduces Thaanaa Serndha Koottam into a meandering mishmash. Lacking focus of any sort and with half-baked, superficial performances, Shivan's work is eminently avoidable.

Rating - 1/5

(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic)

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