Cast: Hip Hop Thamizha Aadhi, Anagha, Karu Palaniappan
Director: Parthiban Desingu
In Natpe Thunai, Adhi plays a hockey player. As with everything else, the film takes a long time to get to the point that he actually plays hockey — for all he does till a little before the interval is sing Hiphop Tamizha songs, hang out with friends and romance Deepa (Anagha). But wait! Could there be something else here, something deeper? The Adhi character’s name is Prabhakaran. He ends up being his team’s captain. He is… Captain Prabhakaran! Now put on your 3D glasses and look carefully. That was the name of a movie starring Vijayakanth. This movie is produced by Khushboo. Vijayakanth and Khushboo appeared together in Enkitta Mothathe, which is exactly what this film’s protagonist could be telling the opponent team’s captain…
I apologise. It must be the Super Deluxe after-effect. I’m seeing connections everywhere — except in the plot threads of Natpe Thunai. This is one of those anything-goes films (the director is D Parthiban Desingu) that exists at the opposite end of the spectrum from Super Deluxe. Everything is meticulously… unconstructed. Actors appear to have been roped in just because they have name-recognition value (‘Eruma Saani’ Vijay, Sha Ra, ‘Put Chutney’ Raj Mohan), not because they have anything useful to do. (I’m still wondering why Pandiyarajan was hanging around.) Issues are addressed just because they have social-media value. There’s a line about caste. A line about hockey being undervalued when compared to cricket. A line about brain drain. A line about soldiers at the border. Even Swami Vivekananda’s line, where he asked for 100 energetic youth in order to transform India, finds a place. Why? Maybe because the great man said, “Arise! Awake! And stop not until the goal is reached.” And, you know, hockey is a game involving goals…
The story is about a playground in Pondicherry that evil men in Mumbai want to steal in order to construct a factory that will leak effluents and later inspire an AR Murugadoss movie. I liked exactly one moment in the first half. It’s when Adhi helps Deepa score a goal. It looks like yet another hero moment, but it turns out to be about the heroine. Nice. But to compensate, we get a bit where another (and less conventionally pretty) girl named Deepa is abducted so she can marry the man she loves. One of Adhi’s friends asks one of the abductors, “Idha thookka aaru peraa? Koopta adhuve vandhirukkume?” One step forward, et cetera.
Neither Deepa is seen much in the second half, which builds to a climax around an all-important match. (Harish Uthaman is the coach, and a very entertaining Karu Pazhaniappan plays the villain, a corrupt politician.) But first, we have to endure the mandatory flashback, which exists because… 1993 happened and Shankar made Gentleman and the second half of Tamil cinema has never been complete without a flashback that unravels the hero’s psyche. Except that there’s no psyche to unravel here. The black plastic bags in Super Deluxe have more psychological shadings than Prabhakaran. Despite the choppy editing, the final match has a few mildly rousing moments. As a closing punch, we get a reminder to vote responsibly during elections. WTF! Then again, in the spirit of deconstruction, we should remember that Vijayakanth and Khushboo were also seen in Simmasanam, which means throne. Is that the sly reason behind this line about who we elect to seats of power? Oh well, whatever.