Walking out of a theatre during an interval break with the satisfaction of having watched something that interests you; that leaves you curious about what’s about to come is one of the best things to enjoy as a viewer. In Film Companion’s Filmmakers Adda, director Nelson revealed that during the writing process, he took a month just to brainstorm ideas for the impressive interlude in Jailer that left us in splits. Even the Jigarthanda DoubleX interval shot featuring the standoff between two protagonists who are ready to shoot — one with a gun, and another with a camera — makes for a fiery frame. The amount of effort that goes into crafting the best interval sequences and the kind of joy we get to savour is nothing less than the films’ climactic parts and makes our film-watching experience even better. So, here are our favourite interval sequences from Tamil cinema in 2023.
Vadivelu’s Maamannan is an MLA in power. But with caste politics at play, he doesn’t have the voice to speak against Rathnavel (Fahadh Faasil), the upper caste party leader of the district. While Maamannan believes the best solution is to accept and move on, his son Veeran (Udhayanidhi) asserts that one shouldn’t let go of their rights. These contradicting policies create a gap in the father-son relationship. Accompanied by AR Rahman’s score and a racy screenplay, the film’s most fascinating moment is the interval sequence: when Maamannan isn’t allowed to sit in front of Rathnavel — a basic right he has been denied all his life — a furious Veeran kicks the latter and urges his father to stand up for himself. A simple act of sitting becomes a statement to resist generations of prejudice. And Maamannan does sit, putting a possible end to his political career but owning his rights in front of someone powerful. But the film doesn’t cut for a break there. It lets the heaviness of the emotion sink in while also simultaneously shifting the viewers’ focus from the important incident in the film to something much more personal, the silent reunion of the father and son, as they travel together for the first time in ages. By the time we get to the final shot, we are far removed from the politics and action zone. The film instead cuts to a silhouette of Maamannan protectively kissing a young Veeran on the hilltops of their village, lending a poetic touch and a pleasant feel.
Most action sequences leave the logic behind like the hero fighting hundreds of men or the bullet that never brushes past the surface of the hero’s shirt. So, when a hero is getting beaten, you know retaliation is just around the corner. This happens in Maaveeran too, but the biggest difference here is the logic that backs the action. Earlier when Sathya (Sivakarthikeyan) tries to stand up for his sister and confront the flat engineer for molesting her, he becomes too scared and runs away. But during the interval sequence, he gives it all back in style. Because he has a support this time: a voice in his head that predicts what will happen and helps him fight by instructing his next moves. The voice tells him that he would move to his left side as someone tries to hit him or that he would take a cement sack and throw it at a rowdy and Sathya would simply follow the command. As the men keep attacking him, he sleekly escapes, punches and runs without a scratch. The best part though is that even if you are watching the film for the second or third time, Maaveeran’s interval fight will still have you rolling in the aisles.
The hilarious interval sequence of 2023 should be Jailer where everything is served with a touch of dark comedy. That said, unlike Nelson’s previous outings, the Rajinikanth-starrer is not just about the funny parts. Style and heroism too are found in equal measures. So, the interval sequence that happens in the dining room of Muthuvel Pandian’s (Rajinikanth) house has the star take down a group of rowdies without even lifting a finger. Bullets appear out of nowhere and blood splashes all over while there is a heavy thunderstorm outside. And Rajinikanth casually offers tissue paper to his wife (Ramya Krishnan) and daughter-in-law to wipe off the blood. If the staging of the action like bodies falling from the dining table and Rajinikanth’s mannerisms leave you in stitches, the lighting and Anirudh’s score of “Hukum – Thalaivar Alappara” add the adrenaline-rushing effect to this amusing and rousing sequence.
Two SJ Suryahs is simply a treat in Mark Antony, a very loud, wacky film with a phone that connects you to the past. The interval sequence is when the hero-villain tables turn and the true colours of Godfather Jackie Pandian (SJ Suryah) who killed his best friend Antony (Vishal) are revealed. With the 70s retro lights filling the room, the best friends take on each other, as Ilaiyaraaja’s “Varudhu Varudhu” plays in the background. Parallelly, the Jackie Pandian in the 90s is thrashing Antony’s son Mark (Another Vishal). But besides the colourfully organised fight sequence, the major highlight is the 90s Jackie trying to explain everything through the phone to his past self and Antony in the 70s, with his life in line. It’s such a hilariously written stretch tailor-made for SJ Suryah where Jackie, who is flying in the air, says to Jackie, “Summa iru da, avan unna sutta, na inga sethuruven da.” And as we cut for an interval break, the film is back to square one, but with a different history and a different Godfather.
In Tamil cinema’s battle with getting the second half right, Jigarthanda DoubleX appears the most successful in 2023. All random ideas that the film throws at us in the beginning brilliantly fall into place in the second half but you get a sample of this much before with the terrific interval shot. The interval sequence is important for it is when SJ Suryah’s timid, aspiring cop-turned-filmmaker takes a courageous step to seek vengeance with “the weapon called cinema.” But even more than the entire stretch of the interlude, Jigarthanda DoubleX leaves you in awe with its interval shot. The one single frame of a standoff between Raghava Lawrence and SJ Suryah, as they point two different guns at each other (SJ Suryah holds a camera that looks like a gun), reassures that the film is headed in the right, expected direction: to establish the power of cinema.
After escaping death, Prince Arulmozhi Varman (Jayam Ravi) gets treated at a monastery and is all set to return to his kingdom. However, the antagonists ensure that Arulmozhi is left all alone, away from his protective siblings and friends. But a prince is always prepared for a war, right? There is a certain calmness and charm associated with Arulmozhi and Mani Ratnam crafts this interval fight without losing those innate factors. It could be Karthi’s Vandhiyathevan who is swiftly swaying with swords, but Arulmozhi has tricks up his sleeve, including his experience as an elephant whisperer. The mood of the interval sequence was racy and scary yet the royally calm Arulmozhi wins the battle without even fighting. The whole film could’ve taken a detour from the novel’s central focus to give us a heartbreaking tale of Adithya Karikalan (Vikram) but the interlude belongs to the titular hero, Ponniyin Selvan.
Nelson Venkatesan’s Farhana follows the titular character (played by Aishwarya Rajesh) who works in a call centre, which also offers sex chat call services. She begins to chat regularly with a musician named Dhayalan through the call service. The film which begins as a breezy and poetic take on how Farhana finds freedom and independence takes a thrilling turn as she finds herself caught in a mess during its bang-on intermission sequence. Unfolding on the day of Eid, Farhana and Dhayalan decide to meet. She is both excited and nervous. However, her husband sees her on her way to the metro and follows her. The whole metro ride is packed with tension — the red bulb glows brightly in the metro, the camera traverses through the gloomy underground tracks and Justin Prabhakaran’s score heightens the fear. But when she is about to meet him, she receives a phone call that forces her to change her decision. She begins to wonder if Dhayalan is really who he claims to be. The nerve-wracking interval ends as Farhana cries her heart out in a crowded metro compartment — a random old woman lets Farhana rest on her lap and another woman moves in front of her to hide the view and give her some privacy to be vulnerable. The interval break seemed to have been left for us to think about the good and bad that different strangers may do in our lives.
Leo’s interval stretch, like most moments in the film, is a carefully crafted sequence that’s meant to confuse the audience. It’s one worthy of whistles and claps as Leo Das (Vijay) actually gets a rebirth with the glass break, one that intercuts to show us Vijay’s bloody sweet spell and ends with the film’s title card on display. But in essence, it’s also a scene that’s powered by deft filmmaking to slowly let us in on the Leo within Parthi. Unlike the initial sequences, Parthi isn’t struggling to accept that Leo is back, and must be back. Rather, it’s about him sharpening the garden tools in the backyard with a new-found calmness as Parthi lets Leo take charge. The bloody sweet reveal of Leo in the film, with Lokesh Kanagaraj’s usual intercut-style editing leaves so much to be chewed on in a character study. Even otherwise, Anirudh’s pumping score of “Badass” song with Harold Das (Arjun Sarja) revealing Leo’s identity amidst a pool of gangsters is a pure theatrical feast served with enough sauce and spice for the fans of both the character and the star.
Por Thozhil’s interval sequence is probably the most terrifically staged one here, as it leaves you seated on the edge of your seats, waiting in anticipation of something bigger and dangerous. Two parallel investigations unfurl during the interval sequence in Por Thozhil. Ashok Selvan’s Prakash, a new cop in town is the one who goes by books. He buries into researching several murder cases that hint at a pattern of the serial killer, while Sarath Kumar’s Loganathan, the experienced and tough police officer, is out to enquire another cop. But in a series of revelations, both of them find similar clues. Loganathan meets with Sarath Babu’s Kennedy and slowly begins to understand that he could be the killer on the run. The makers had kept the identity of Sarath Babu under wraps, and it only added more terror to the scene as we see him as the menacing villain with his orange-dyed hair, who fits every description of the suspect. As Prakash surfs through the library register, we also parallelly see Loganathan have a seemingly casual conversation with Kennedy that plays out in the most intense manner. Unlike the speedy interval sequences in this list, the Vignesh Raja film takes its time to establish the ideas with a focus on little details and pauses in between the conversations that hold your entire attention.
Fight Club oozes style in every frame, paying impeccable attention to its action sequences, fitting right with the title. Set in North Madras, the film stars Vijay Kumar as Selva, who aspires to become a footballer but is manipulated to seek revenge. As the rival gang hits his friends, Selva rises to the occasion to fight for them. Although the hero doesn’t realise yet that he is a puppet in the hands of a bigger villain, the makers let the audience know it. Unlike several other sequences in Fight Club, the tussle here is very simple: the hero takes on the rival gang who are in a moving bus. However, the build-up to the fight is one of the most satisfying stretches, props to the technical choices, where all that the characters do is stare at each other. The makers deliciously capture and cut between the fight with a lot of patience and the gaps are filled with a rousing background score by Govind Vasantha. Vijay Kumar also enjoys a certain elevation befitting the bigger stars, which gives us the stylistic interval shot where Kumar’s screen presence and cigar are the only substances.