least he’s not making another indie navel gazer. When an aspiring hipster
filmmaker gets an offer to make a violent gangster movie, he decides to do it
the hard way. Traveling to Madurai to research a local gangster, Karthik inadvertently
attracts the attention of his intended subject. Things will get a bit sticky,
but the film must go on in Karthik Subbaraj’s Jigarthanda (trailer
screens tonight at the 2014 South Asian International Film Festival.
should have just remade a Hong Kong gangster movie like Scorsese. Bringing the
true story of “Assault” Sethu to the screen is a dangerous proposition. Just
ask the muckraking journalist he burns to death. Crashing with his local school
chum Oorani, Karthik takes the indirect approach, trying to befriend key
henchmen. He also starts romancing Kayal, the daughter of Sethu’s housekeeper.
Of course his mercenary motives will eventually cause trouble for Karthik,
especially if he ever realizes he might have squandered something good.
However, Sethu will be a more pressing problem when he busts the clumsy snoops.
a prospective big screen treatment appeals to Sethu’s vanity. He is more than
happy to talk and talk about one horrific crime after another. Inconveniently
for Karthik, Sethu soon develops Get
Shorty ideas, but he is no Chili Palmer. This is where his filmmaking
mettle will really be tested.
often travels poorly, but Jigarthanda’s
dark satire (particularly as manifested in the third act) translates unusually
well, sort of like Tarantino adapting O.Henry, but with more restraint. Still,
there is enough violence to make it tricky to definitively categorize, while
compensating for most of Karthik and Oorani’s early rubber-faced slapstick.
Karthik, Siddharth is plenty earnest, but rather bland in that comedic leading
man sort of way. Conversely, Bobby Simha gives a big, physical performance in
just about every way imaginable. His colorful associates also have their
moments, especially Sangili Murugan as Petti Kadai, the shopkeeper who knew
Sethu back in the day.
is that rare film that actually becomes more
stylish as it progresses, so it is worth sticking with it. At times, it
critiques the media glamorization of gangsters quite pointedly, but it is first
and foremost a valentine to movies and the artists who are forced to compromise
in order to make them. Recommended for fans of Tamil cinema, Jigarthanda screens tonight (11/21) as
part of this year’s SAIFF.
Labels: Gangster Films, SAIFF '14, Tamil Cinema