Cast: Jiiva, Shalini Pandey, Yogi Babu, Sathish
Director: Don Sandy
One of the running gags in Jiiva’s insipid Gorilla is how a group of wastrels decide to rob a bank wearing not only a purdah but also a gorilla mask under it to hide their identities. Throw in a plainly-dressed Yogi Babu to this group and this gag quickly devolves to people grabbing at his face, thinking he too has a mask on. Can you guess where I’m going with this? The usual Tamil comedy settles for body-shaming as it makes fun of Yogi Babu’s weight issues alone. But Gorilla goes a step further, calling the man a monkey, quite literally. This is the kind of joke I had outgrown even when I was still in my diapers. Now what if I were to tell you that this was one of the film’s better jokes? When a film is called Gorilla, I didn’t think the makers were actually referring to the film’s target audience.
What the makers are trying to do is make a film like Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, where a bunch of idiots get together to plan and execute a complex bank heist. But there’s nothing they’ve done to develop these characters to add even the tiniest bit of flavour to the proceedings. Jiiva is here playing Jeeva, Sathish plays Sathish again and Shalini Pandey is in yet another film where she falls far too easily for the wrong kind of guy. But what’s unforgivable is how they’ve added a Muslim farmer to this mix. Not only is his character overtly serious for such a silly film but they also use him from time to time to manufacture sympathy for the plight of farmers in our state. What’s worse is how the film suddenly shifts gears from a story about a bunch of selfish pricks trying to make a quick buck to a more ambitious protest movie where the government’s brought to its knees to heed to the sorry plight of the farmers. But where are those scenes to suggest Jiiva’s transformation to become this righteous hero? Why should we worry for these goons when we’d much rather have them killed? Why is everything still so boring, even with a ticking time bomb on the side? Most importantly, why am I looking for logic in a movie where the hero’s pet chimpanzee YouTubes Shakeela videos in its spare time?
The least I was expecting was for some of the TV skit-like jokes set within the bank to work out. They introduce Mottai Rajendran, they introduce Lollu Sabha Swaminathan but they’re in this doing exactly what they’ve been doing for years. Everything is messy, everything is shoddy and there’s one too many gags involving the chimp punching or kicking or slapping a man’s groin. Which is when you realise that the chimp itself is just an added accessory, a novelty that adds nothing to the film. There’s something seriously amiss with a film when you look back at M. Rajesh’s comedies and think that those were the good old days.