Theeran: Adhigaaram Ondru

H. Vinoth’s earlier film threw a majorly fictional protagonist into a well-researched, true story of theft and thievery. He does exactly the same here again, and mounts it on a scale that spans the nation. Karthi as DCP Theeran is measured and established in a simple, straight-forward manner. You buy into his skills very quickly, even though he’s a “hero”. That is what the film is doing. It is humanising the star and bringing the hero to ground reality. Or that is maybe what every sensible young filmmaker wants to do today. Stars haven’t listened properly so far. But hopes are high for the future.

The film’s sensibility keeps getting ahead of the template we know. Theeran walks into a dacoit village without thinking twice, and he sees the man he’s there for. Goons come to fight him in sets of threes and fours. You’d expect the scene to end with a boss-fight, but it pulls back to become another whole monster. What we get is both a scream and an intensely made action sequence. This is what the film constantly does. It creates engaging action with scenes that have a timid start. Take the one that starts at a toll booth, with information of an accused travelling in a bus. The search gets onto a bus, and it grows to become this crazy Mad Max styled, on-the-run action sequence. There’s a lot going on in this set piece, and it is presented with absolute clarity. The action that’s happening is shot from every comprehensive angle possible, giving us a clear picture of the scale of it.

There is another interesting facet of the action. The makers have given the action sequences an obvious horror-film treatment. Especially the scenes set in the night. There’s a ghost-town sequence towards the end that makes it apparent. Or take the shot where the goons are banging on the door to get inside – it is very obviously “ghostly”, with the villain looking like a zombie trying to break in. There is another scary, chilling scene before this one, where a couple of the nomads walk past the houses as they scout for potential attacks. The dog knows, and it barks. Their bright native attire, only seen in their warm regions, added to the outlandish presence. This sense of building up horror, works big time. The way the camera follows them as they look towards the houses, screams of modern-day horror. It isn’t a surprise that this is shot by the same man who shot 2015’s inventive, pure horror film Maya. Sathyan Sooriyan’s cinematography is absolutely clean. His camerawork gives a fresh perspective to the 1995-2005 setting. Shooting places and events set in that time, with today’s style and sensibility makes the film look damn cool.

I loved how the film presents and packages the groundwork and research alongside such brilliantly choreographed action set pieces. The balance is right in here. But where it falters with the kiddish romance track. That is something that makes the film look imbalanced as a whole. Commercial compromise or not, a lot of the floss could have been done away with. It feels too dumb in a film that’s about dark villains who see humans as objects rather than flesh. Speaking of villains, I wish there was someone other than Abhimanyu Singh playing the top antagonist. He’s etched well, but it’s just that his casting seems like an overkill. We have already seen him getting beaten up by our top heroes. A face we don’t know could have added a layer of unpredictability. The rest of the members of Oma’s cult are even more menacing than he is, on the visual front at least. His character ‘sounds’ darker than what he is in person. But this isn’t that big of a grudge. It doesn’t spoil what the film is for me. Definitely not as much as the dubbing for the heroine.

H. Vinoth exhibits immense clarity in detailing. He’s stuck to his point – of the hardships cops faced on this case – and delivered on that front. I really like the way he’s handled his protagonists in both his films. They have their own distinct characteristics that help them get out of things. They aren’t perfect, they falter on their way. The fictional central character in his films are hard to overlook, even if he’s part of a real story. It is commendable to see no repetition of what worked for him in his first film. Then, he had dialogues to rely on then, now he’s only got facts from a relentless manhunt, up his sleeve. This is definitely among the year’s most memorable films. And on the action front, one of the best we’ve ever got. Here’s me signing off to Count 2.


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