Director: Shakti Soundar Rajan
Cast: Jayam Ravi, Ramesh Thilak, V. Jayaprakash
Much of Indian cinema is still stuck in the age-old belief that it must present “wholesome entertainment”. This means that a film should have a liberal mix of romance, comedy, villainy, fights and just about everything else packed into high drama. Unfortunately, this kind of scripting does not work in today's India, where ticket-paying masses have become extremely choosy. They are not so keen to munch masala, except of course spiced-up popcorn.
And this is precisely where Shakti Soundar Rajan falters in his latest outing, this time into space. Termed Tik Tik Tik, the Jayam Ravi starrer is obsessed with, what I presume, offering its audiences value for money (especially now that ticket prices have been jacked up in Tamil Nadu after a decade).
And here is the buffet. There is a 60-sq-km killer asteroid hurtling towards Tamil Nadu, and whose crash into the Bay of Bengal will be catastrophic. Giant tsunami waves will kill millions in the region, including Andhra Pradesh and Sri Lanka. The only way to save lives and property will be to get a large missile to destroy the asteroid as it races towards the earth.
What a pity that there is only one of this type of missile, and it is on board an enemy spaceship somewhere in the galaxy. And the enemy (supposedly China, and now Indian movies are hung up on this country after beating to death the Pakistan angle) will not hand over the missile. Why? For, as the guy in the enemy spaceship says later into the film, such destruction will brighten their commercial prospects. They can, then, build the broken bridges and buildings through attractive contracts. Now, I am thoroughly foxed. How could the director/writer imagine that India would give such business to an enemy nation.
Just leave your thinking caps at home! There is more coming!
And India's defence authorities zero in on a magician with an uncanny ability to break locks and vaults, Vasu (Ravi), whose happy relationship with his motherless son is interrupted by a jail sentence for a minor misdemeanour, and this is further excised when he and his two prankster friends (one of them is an expert hacker who can work wonders even in space) are ordered to steal the missile. They are trained with lightning speed , bundled into a spacecraft along with Swathi (Nivetha Pethuraj) and a couple of others from the defence team and asked to fly. Mind you, there are no astronauts on the mission.
To make matters worse, the Indian spacecraft is sabotaged at the behest of a couple of evil guys, and so we have to grapple with not only the fast approaching asteroid, but also two other wily characters. All this is beaten into a kidnap drama, a tear-jerking separation and a stolen kiss (for the front benchers), but mercifully there is no romantic angle or songs to add to the turbulence. I was hoping that a single Swathi and a lonely Vasu will find the galaxy moments too tempting not to let go their hormones.
Touted as India's first space movie, Tik Tik Tik is neither impressive with its special effects nor with its story, which is bizarre, to put it mildly.
What is worse, Ravi cannot seem to get rid of his wooden looks (film after film) and Pethuraj is equally disappointing. Come on, these guys are on an unimaginably dangerous mission, and they are the least prepared for it (!), but I could see no trace of fear on their faces: even when Vasu finds himself struggling without oxygen to get back into his craft. And, earlier, when he steps on the moon, he announces that he is the first Indian to do so. Great, but where is the excitement?
Sadly, Tik Tik Tik did not not get my heart tik-tiking, the movie turning into a sloppy slide into space.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic who may be emailed firstname.lastname@example.org )