Director: Harish Ram LH
Cast: Darshan, Keerthi Pandian
I remember my younger cousin sister coming up to me a couple of months ago, and showing me a video of Anirudh and a tiger. It was apparently the title reveal promotional video for Thumbaa and I remember being particularly impressed with the visual effects of the tiger. And that’s exactly why the first thing I did after getting out of the theatre was to revisit that promo to see whether there was any difference in the VFX quality of that video and the film… and there is. Sadly, the promo tiger won, and by a ‘long paw’.
So the argument; “See, but this an Indian film, that’s the best that can be done” doesn’t quite work, for this is the same film that we are comparing it to.
The intention is to not take anything away from the young and new creators, who have managed to make their film look really polished and vibrant, but I really did find myself scratching my head in frustration because the film has failed to reach the potential it exhibited earlier.
Apart from that, I knew this would be a tough film for any adult (or even young adult) to critique, considering it advertised itself to be a “kids and family summer entertainer” which here, unlike in the west, actually means “strictly for kids in primary school and their parents who are trapped into accompanying them”. And that’s why you get an accompanying ‘Jayam’ Ravi (appearing in one of the shortest cameos in recent times), looking directly at the camera along with the lead actors of the film lined up behind him and sharing the good, pressing message: humans should learn to coexist with animals because they safeguard our planet and thus the ecosystem. He even refers to a study which states that saving two tigers brings more value to the nation than the maiden space mission: Mangalyaan. (Hmm… tik tik tik). All this bore an uncanny resemblance to kids’ shows, say something like Dora: The Explorer, except (thankfully) we weren’t asked to repeat it after them. But hey, it is for kids, who’d probably rather listen to Tik Tik Tik uncle than their own parents.
Despite the vain efforts of the film to keep adult audiences from squirming in their seats, say by making “contractor nesamani” canon to their movie through a reference, the ‘Othaiyadi Padhayila’ actor (Darshan) singing the same song, and a few giggle-worthy jokes here and there by characters Umapathy and Suresh, it is too little to matter with so much absurdity going on; a tiger which just punches bad guys because, duh, kids should not know that tigers can kill and a VFX monkey which is beyond clever… almost sentient (actually most animals in this film’s universe are, I’m looking at you butt-shaking elephant). But at least they showed the kids a passionate, strong-willed yet sensitive girl in the forefront. Wait, was it Dora? No, sorry, Varsha (Keerthi)!