Director: Karthik G Krish
Cast: Siddharth, Yogi Babu, Divyansha, Abimanyu Singh, Munishkanth, RJ Vigneshkanth
Who doesn’t love a good Tamil movie hero who just can’t catch a break? The vulnerable underdog who moves to a new city in the hopes of making it big might be a bit of a trope, but when done well, even a familiar trope becomes exceptionally enjoyable. Takkar reminded me of Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Maanagaram, and its delicious take on fate in many ways. It has the bitterest (and an earnest) Siddharth you’ll ever see play Gunasekar, an exasperated man who moves to Chennai to make some money. An abduction is involved, a whole lot of hooligans too come attached with the deal and our hero finally learns the meaning of courage during a moment of utter defeat. But this metamorphosis — an integral part of both movies — ends up taking Takkar into a tawdry route.
Gunasekar is a modern take on the bitter angry young man who hates the universe and its warped patterns. And his frustrations are relatable. He is not just any other angry young man, but a self-respecting one with anger issues that he’s quite proud of. “Kovapadardhu nalla gunam,” he tells his mother, as he tosses away his plate of food, launching into a tirade about why he deserves to be rich. In the next scene, he lands in Chennai and picks up odd jobs— ranging from a gym trainer to an extra on a film set — to make a quick buck. Whether his anger gets in the way of success or not, his dignity does. His friend explains his ambitions in succinct words: Avanuku “instant panakkaran” aaganum. Gunasekar’s desperation finally forces him to rent a Mercedes from a dangerous Chinese man, and dials his desires back. He ends up chauffeuring the rich even if he can’t be in the backseat.
Fate has a way of sticking its head out in the most delirious moments in Gunasekar’s life. In the middle of a ride, he crosses paths with two notorious smugglers, who tell him to chauffeur them to safety in exchange for ₹50 lakhs. Torn between doing the right thing and the absolutely despicable, Gunasekar picks the latter and indulges in a Need-For-Speed-esque car chase with the cops in the middle of peak Chennai traffic, despair and greed bulging out of his eyes.
We all can anticipate how this might end, but Siddharth takes this gutting scene and makes it his own. It is in scenes like these that we see a glimpse of what Takkar could’ve been. In another sequence, a now truly defeated Gunasekar, whose life has gone up in flames, makes his way to a dangerous alley, with a death wish. It is here that he finds his life’s purpose, with one Mercedes leading him to another, reversing his rough streak with destiny. It is also here that the film flips the last fragment of potential that it seemed to have.
In its second half, Gunasekar navigates his complicated relationship with money and destiny through Lucky (Divyansha Kaushik), a woman, which the film compares to “a trophy for winning the game of life.” The film wants us to believe that Lucky is not your ideal “loosu ponnu” . She schools Gunasekar about feminism, normalises sex and loveless relationships and speaks her mind. At the same time, she randomly breaks into a kuththu dance while seated in a car, laughs at kites and isn’t afraid to use offensive remarks to identify people who don’t look like her. Now, you go figure if she’s a loosu ponnu or a contemporary Kannagi. Even if their chemistry is decent enough to keep a romance going, the issue with Takkar is not being able to ground its characters with anything solid. Gunasekar very proudly tells Lucky that his mother is his most favourite person in the world. But the only scene where we see them together is the one that involves the vigorous plate swinging.
The same goes with his friendship with Vigneshkanth. For some reason, Takkar finds a bizarre need to break the tension of every scene with an exhausting comedy track powered by an even exhausted Yogi Babu, who is way too competent to be deprecating himself in the name of humour. At one point, when Maanagaram breakout star Munishkanth joins in on an infuriating subplot about an abduction gone wrong, it leaves us daydreaming about the film Takkar could’ve been.