Director: Ashok Amritharaj
Cast: Ashwin Kakumanu, Swathi Reddy, Jayaprakash
Before the press show of Thiri (Wick), the director, Ashok Amritharaj, addressed the audience. He had that “I am a student of cinema” air. (“If you like the film, tell others. If not, tell me. And I’ll fix the mistakes in my next project.) Then, he spoke about the difficulties in releasing a film. How hard it is to find a date. How hard it is to find theatres. And even when you find theatres, they only give you the noon show, reserving the prime-time shows for bigger films. He said the theatre owners ask, “Who’s going to see this film, especially with the increased ticket rates post-GST?” I felt for him. I also understood what the theatre owners meant.
It’s hard to make a case for Thiri, whose protagonist, Jeeva (Ashwin Kakumanu), is one of those engineering students we’ve seen in a thousand earlier films. He takes on a corrupt politician. At the end, he says, “Padichavan kitta modhinaa enna nadakkum, paathiya?” (See what happens when you clash with a graduate?) To get to this line, you’d assume there has been some serious application of the skills one acquires through education – maybe Jeeva invents a drone that spies on the politician. But no. It’s the usual street smarts. You don’t need a degree to do what Jeeva does. You just need a screenwriter who’s watched a lot of Tamil cinema.
It’s hard to make a case for Thiri, whose protagonist, Jeeva (Ashwin Kakumanu), is one of those engineering students we’ve seen in a thousand earlier films. He takes on a corrupt politician.You don’t need a degree to do what Jeeva does. You just need a screenwriter who’s watched a lot of Tamil cinema
The story takes a long time to cohere. We have to deal with the heroine, Swathi (Swathi Reddy), who seems to be a contestant in a game show inside her head called Who Wants To Be The Next Hansika? She wakes up late for work, and instead of rushing to the office, she saunters over to Jeeva’s house across the road and asks for coffee. Would you pay post-GST ticket rates for this?
There’s an odd development when goons with sickles end up murdering a man as Jeeva and his friends run away, concerned only about their safety. It’s only when he’s affected does he begin to fight the good fight. There’s something here about how we wake up only when trouble comes to our doorstep, but the director is either unaware of this subtext or uninterested. He seems happier shooting scenes where we get the rhyming dialogues Tamil cinema loves so much. “Annikku pasi -a irundhaaru. Innikku busy-a irukkaru.”
The sole star in the rating above is due to Jeeva’s father, played by Jayaprakash. He’s a schoolteacher. He writes “DISCIPLINE” on the board, and asks students to jot down the alphabetic position of each letter in the word. D is the fourth letter, I is the ninth, and so on. Add these numbers and what do you get? “100” I thought it was quite cool in a things-I-didn’t-really-need-to-know way, but I’d have been happier making this discovery through a Facebook meme. But Jayaprakash has a comforting presence. Even when he lectures, we feel like listening to him politely as opposed to slapping him senseless. I wish this actor found better parts to play.
Watch the trailer of Thiri here: