Experience raw, genius fimmaking that will leave you clapping when Karthik Subbaraj’s name appears at the end.
Karthik (Siddharth), presumably a character named after the film’s director Karthik Subburaj, is struggling get his first big break in cinema. His short films attract attention and he is selected by a producer to direct a movie. Karthik wants to do a musical gangster movie, which after all is the very tagline of Jigarthanda itself, but his producer wants bloodshed and violence and rowdies.
In an effort to grab his opportunity, he travels to Madurai, where he closely follows the life of Madurai’s most feared underworld kingpin, Assault Sethu (Bobby Simha), albeit from a close distance. Karthik’s idea was to write a script modelled after Sethu’s life, but when Sethu catches him, Karthik is forced, without any choice, to actually employ Sethu as the hero for his movie.
No, this is not a familiar storyline for a Tamil movie. And this is not a movie where there is a climax fight scene between the good guy and the bad guy. In fact, the ending is so badass that you can afford to forget about all the Hollywood gangster flicks and thoroughly enjoy the level of originality that Jigarthanda brings to the table.
In so many ways, Karthik Subburaj, and those who gave him this opportunity deserve applause for showing that Tamil cinema is able to offer opportunities to young talents and a movie like this, which does not follow any convention or formulas. This was a three-hour trailblazer on a path that had no prior foundations.
True, there were a few gangster movies which had shades of what Jigarthanda was offering- the like of Pudhupettai and the masterful Aaranya Kandam comes to mind. But while those two movies were perennially dark in its treatment and its pacing, relegating them to only certain audiences, Jigarthanda packs a punch that is both paisa vasool and intellectual potpourri at the same time. With Jigarthanda, Karthik Subbaraj has proven that you can marry an unique, out of the norm narrative with commercial aspects to deliver both entertainment and also satiate your brain faculties.
Entertainment does not have to come at the expense of logic, and vice versa. This movie is a living proof of that statement.
Karthik’s script is as watertight as it gets, and has the marks of a script that had been refined and had value added to it time and again. There are so many cross references that one could relate to Karthik’s own personality, and also about the life of a budding filmmaker. The film also shows how a talented filmmaker can, if he needs, turn even a compromise into a brilliant movie, which is probably exactly what Karthik had done with Pizza- a supposedly horror movie with an unique treatment.
You don’t see the turns and twists coming in this movie, bar one or two. That is because Karthik changes the direction and the tone of the movie without you even noticing- which is the best thing about Jigarthanda. Unlike Pizza, where one explanatory scene changes your perception, Jigarthanda keeps you on the hooks until the end, you merely enjoy the ride without knowing where or how it was going to end.
It also paints a very neo noir picture of a gangster’s life story. There is absolutely no flaws that I could pick there either, from the red Mercedes to the acting classes, and the general attitude of gangsters, the film has encapsulated the very essence and spirit of the life of a gangster.
Bobby Simha, without a doubt, owns every scene where he is involved, and by extension, owned this movie. This was as good as a performance that you can ask for an artist, he has gotten under the skin of being a gangster, and ups the ante in the second half as a gangster who is attempting to become a movie hero.
Siddharth is brilliant as the budding young filmmaker. He did the best to script’s demands and deserve huge respect for taking up projects like these consistently and providing opportunities for young directors like Karthik Subbaraj and Balaji Mohan. Karunakaran as Oorni is the probably the best sidekick you will get to see in cinemas this year.
Lakshmi Menon does not have much to do in the movie, despite her character causing the turning point in the entire movie. She appears sans make-up and does a decent job.
Santosh Narayanan’s music is an eclectic mix and suits with the tagline of Jigarthanda being a musical gangster story. The songs are from completely different mix, the top of it all being “Pandi Nadu”, which is a catchy folk song that encapsulates the mood and treatment of the film.
In short, you can’t miss Jigarthanda. If you have followed Tamil cinema and loved it, you owe to yourself to watch what will be, inarguably the best Indian film of 2014 due to its sheer creativity.
If you have not watched it and are wondering why is everyone raving about this movie as a trend-setting one, that is simply because it is indeed something unique, unexpected, and thoroughly entertaining. You will never get more value for the money you pay to buy a ticket for this movie. It’s worth the ticket, and even a repeat show. Watch it in cinemas to get the feel, the colour, and the general mood. And experience raw, genius fimmaking that will leave you clapping when Karthik Subbaraj’s name appears at the end.
A tinge of jealousy will always be there from me, as a fellow aspiring filmmaker, to achieve what he has done. Karthik has achieved what every young filmmaker who dream of doing things differently hope to achieve. But, there is also a note of thanks here from me- because Karthik has proved that if you knock on the door hard enough, there will be space aplenty for people like me, and him.
For a comrade (Karthik) who has made it, I say happy Jigarthanda, and Puzhudi Parakum Paaru!