Quite a decent engaging thriller, which Magizh does it comfortably
Director: Magizh Thirumeni
Genre(s): Action, Thriller
Starring: Udhayanidhi Stalin, Nidhhi Agerwal, Aarav
An enormous corporation employs a cold-blooded assassin to uncover the identity of a whistleblower inside the company. To what extent does the hunter or the prey ultimately prevail?
Udhayanidhi Stalin, an actor, and the politician is back in theatres with Kalaga Thalaivan, a racketeering thriller. Maghizh Thirumeni’s film weaves a thrilling game of cat and mouse but falls flat in its attempt to address the issue of corporate sponsorship of politics. Udhayanidhi’s hero introduction is unusual for a Kollywood film. In order to help out an older coworker who is having trouble with a job, he secretly logs into his computer from afar and provides assistance while his supervisor observes and waits for the older guy to make a mistake. This is a lot less exciting than his submission in the last Nenjukku Needhi: imagine the sun rising over a mountain (the DMK party emblem) and rolling down the vehicle window to expose our hero’s face. In many ways, the tone of the whole film can be traced back to that moment.
Thiru is leading against the privatization of the civil service and the environmental and democratic harms that corporates cause. As a financial analyst for the Vajrah automotive company, Thiru helps keep the company afloat. The corporation boasts that its new line of semis may reduce fuel consumption by 50 percent, but fails to mention that the emissions from these vehicles would be far higher than the legal limit. For the remainder of the movie, Thiru is trying to shed light on Vajrah’s extensive business misdeeds and his connections to different governments. Upon learning of a leak inside their ranks, Vajrah recruits Arjun (Arav) and his group to investigate. Former soldier turned corporate security guard Arjun has been called a “psychopathic murderer.” I’m almost ready to give up on expecting Kollywood to give its villains more depth than a few thrown-together psychological phrases. Arjun’s brutal and obsessive search for Thiru begins, despite the astronomical odds piled against our heroic protagonist.
The gradual disclosure of who Thiru is and his motivation for going for Vajrah is executed by director Magizh, building curiously until halftime. Just before the intermission, the filmmaker provides a well-executed chase scene at a train station. This is a slow-burn scene with the appropriate temperature to lure us in. There are enough unexpected developments to have us curious about what happens in the second act. Karthik (kalaiyarasan) is also introduced by Magizh.
The remainder of the movie focuses on Arjun’s search for Thiru and the revelation of his motivations for wanting to destroy Vajrah, with some rom-com subplots thrown in to introduce the obligatory heroine.
Mythili (Nidhhi Agerwal), Thiru’s love interest, is mostly there so that he may demonstrate his deductive reasoning talents to her. Pop psychology regarding the kind of bags she wears leads Thiru to quickly assume that she is a “strong-willed, independent, and well-organized lady.” All of this appears to have been crammed into the picture only to show that Thiru, unlike the majority of Tamil movie heroes, values strong female characters with distinct personalities. Nidhhi’s shallow performance and her scripted portrayal of Mythili don’t provide much support for the idea that we should draw the same conclusions about her. The relationship doesn’t add anything to the story and instead just throws off the tempo.
Udhayanidhi’s acting style meshes well with the character of Thiru, who is depicted as a quiet guy not prone to extreme emotional outbursts. He appears to be at his best in such parts, creating a believable portrait of a guy haunted by his history who keeps it hidden out of a desire to see justice done. His role in the film Nenjukku Needhi had also come off as a very motivated individual, despite the many shortcomings of that story. As such, they’re both a welcome change of pace from his previous romantic comedies like Oru Kal Oru Kannadi.
Except for a few isolated moments, the film’s wider politics aren’t convincing. Despite Kalaga Thalaivan’s assertion that the film’s antagonists are the corporations responsible for the land grabs and environmental destruction suffered by indigenous people as a result of their cozy relationships with governmental forces, this is not sufficiently shown. The two main antagonists of the film are Thiru and Arjun, whose obsessive drive to stop the hero isn’t convincing. Arav is frightening because of the number of people he kills, but otherwise, he’s not all that interesting. With his detached, rather than menacing, approach to dialogue delivery, he fails to inspire confidence.
Kalaga Thalaivan might have been much better if it had spent more time establishing what it is that plutocrats do, rather than concentrating on a poorly developed villain like Arjun, who is merely a means to a goal. But at some point in the end it feels like, Kalaga Thalaivan might have sequels and if it has, it is not a very bad move. Can work for it and produce an intriguing script for the audience in the upcoming parts.