In movie making, I idolise directors who change their style and not modify the story to their style. Some directors choose stories that suit their style, but there are movie directors who adapt their making based on what the story wants. In short, I respect Sidney Lumet more than Quentin Tarantino. I thought Mysskin couldn’t make movies beyond his usual style. His Mugamoodi experiment was a disaster, but Thupparivalan is a redemption. Finally, he has found the perfect recipe to mix commercial cinema with his art-house sensitivities.
Thupparivaalan is the story of Kanian Poongundran (played by Vishal), a hyper-intelligent private detective, who takes up a case of murdered pet dog of a small kid. Kanian, along with his sidekick Mano (played by Prasanna) unearth a conspiracy connected with multiple high-profile crimes in the city. The rest of the story is about how Kanian finds the reason behind the murders and ultimately the people responsible for them.
The best thing about Thupparivaalan is that it’s a straightforward, no-nonsense thriller. Mysskin has evaded the usual twist cliches of Tamil cinema thriller genre to give a brilliantly crafted movie. He carefully builds up the story for the final onslaught, and the climax sequence gives you the perfect adrenaline rush. He has deviated from his usual quirks – the low angle shots, dark lighting and at the same time he balances his avocations with Asian obsession (martial art based stunts and Harakiri). This movie could have been made in his usual style, but he has decided not to.
When I said that I want to watch Thupparivaalan, most people were not enthusiastic as it was a Vishal movie. The prejudice that people have on an actor was not surprising, but we as an audience are not willing to give him a break. Although the Sherlock inspired costume might look forced, Vishal’s underplay of the character is damn neat. No doubt that Sherlock inspired the character, but Kanian Poongondran is not a superhuman, but he is a benignant version of Sherlock that we know. It was refreshing to see such a characterisation in Tamil Cinema. Prasanna’s character doesn’t make any difference in the movie, and the same goes with Anu Immanuel. Andrea, Bhagyaraj and Vinay are apt in their roles.
Thupparivaalan was let down by Arrol Corelli’s background score. He has faltered in a movie that had immense potential for music. There are moments when the film craves for silence, and he chooses to fill your ears with a jarring score. The movie also consists of the undefined relationship between Mallika and Kanian Poongundran. I might accept the presence of her character only if she resurfaces like Irene Adler in the next movie (or will there be another movie?)
One of the major criticisms against the movie is that it doesn’t emotionally connect because there are no back stories to any of the characters except for Mallika. The stories of Vinay and Bhagyaraj are passing clouds in the movie. But such a genre need not have solid backstories. In fact, the cold-blooded murders are more effective when you are not emotionally attached to the characters.
Thupparivaalan is not a classic, and it’s not the best movie of Mysskin (Onayum Aattukuttiyum remains my favourite). But Thupparivaalan shows that Mysskin is not a template director. It sits on the sweet spot that many directors like Mysskin expect to achieve – a perfect marriage of commercial cinema and art-house sensibilities. Thupparivalan is the right step towards that goal.
If you have prejudices on Vishal and Mysskin, throw them out of your window, watch Thupparivaalan and enjoy.
Thupparivaalan Review: A 3/5 for Mysskin’s world of sleuths – Book your tickets to extend a warm welcome to Thennagathin Sherlock or our own Kanian Poongondran.
PS., Dear Mysskin, How about an adaptation of Ganesh and Vasanth?