Cast: Vikram Prabhu, Hansika Motwani
Director: Dinesh Selvaraj
Tamil cinema continues to be rich in content, and is often plot driven. Rajinikanth's latest 2.0, though a science fantasy, has this alarming message of how radiation from mobile telephone towers is killing birds. Little sparrows are certainly a casualty, and I have seen the way they have almost disappeared from Chennai.
The Vikram Prabhu starrer, Thuppakki Munai raises the disturbing question of police encounters. First resorted to in the early 1980s, such encounters have become a convenient tool for the police to tackle crime. Shoot and kill a crime suspect so that he does not have a chance to escape the law – which can be long and may even allow a convict to walk out of jail with the connivance of a clever lawyer. But the fact remains, encounter killings are by themselves highly unlawful and an innocent man or woman may be killed by trigger-happy cops, who are keen to “solve” a case and win kudos. We have seen this so often in India.
This is the core plot of Thuppakki Munai, written and directed by Dinesh Selvaraj. While Birla Bose (essayed by Prabhu) goes merrily with his guns and bullets, working up an impressive number of encounter deaths, his doctor mother, who believes in saving lives, is upset and angry – and leaves him. So too his girlfriend, Mythili (played by Hansika Motwani, whose lip-sync is still terrible). But Bose is unperturbed, lulling himself into believing that he is a saviour, out to cleanse society of crime and ruthless criminals. And in what turns out to be a defining assignment, he goes to the holy city of Rameshwaram to finish a North Indian worker, accused of raping and murdering a 15-year-old schoolgirl.
Unfortunately, Thuppakki Munai in spite of a socially-significant theme, slips into the usual cliches of Tamil cinema. If the narration is often tardy, the writing is poor and so unbelievable. Here you have a cop like Bose with a never-miss aim who invariably uses his fists to fight his opponents, and dozens of them. With each blow of his, they crumble and collapse. Not just this. The narrative gets into an uncomfortable melodramatic mode. Finally, with Prabhu forced into playing a He-Man, Thuppakki Munai disappoints. Even the cinematography with such a picture postcard locale like Rameshwaram is not impressive.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic)