Cast: Jeevan, Priyamani, Santhanabarathy, Sampath Raj, Livingston
Storyline: A gangster has to choose between loyalty to those who raised him and his lady love who wants to be a cop.
Bottomline: As standardised as a bullet in a magazine.
There’s not a chance in hell will you forget you watched Thotta.
Selvaa’s idea of making Thotta unforgettable is by making every character say Thotta at least once in every line said in the movie, if not every shot. So it does have a killing effect. Only that by the time you hear it for the hundredth time before interval, you are already dead.
Like that’s not enough, he further goes on to stretch the Thotta-Thupaaki (Bullet-Gun) analogy to groan-inducing levels of repetition and re-iteration. First, the hitman is only as good as the bullet fired by the gun and then, the obvious rejoinder by the hero: that the gun is no good without the bullet.
To continue with that analogy, bullets are replaced after every shot is fired or misfired and that’s exactly been the case with Tamil film heroes this season. The prototype for the season is the gun-toting gangster.
The miracle of cinema is that whether it is Narain or Vikram or Jeevan, it creates an level-playing ground for them to don exactly the same role – What Narain played in Chithiram Pesudadi a couple of years ago, Vikram does in Bheema (though Bheema is original to the extent that it is at least a bold throwback to Brokeback Mountain with our own cowboy gangster tattooing his lover’s name on his chest as a story about a gangster torn between his love for a man and a girl, caught between guns and roses… and pricks and blossoms) and now, Jeevan does that here with great sincerity.
Just like how Bheema was about the second-generation vigilante and the relevance of the prototype in today’s context when the system is all-powerful and does not discriminate against the good bad guy with the gun and the bad bad guy with the gun, Thotta takes the life of an unabashedly evil hitman who kills and makes him fall in love with the good side of life (through the girl who wants to be a cop).
Today, the system finds means beyond the book to get rid of those who break the law under the garb of chance encounter killings. So yes, it does seem very fascinating when the lines blur between good and evil and between those who uphold the law and those who break it. But how many movies do we see with the same story, characters and structure?
To Selvaa’s credit, Jeevan as Thotta underplays quite a bit without over-reacting to situations (except when the dubbing artiste goes over the top in a couple of places) and at least at the story level, the film and the hero get the end they deserve. But not before stuntmen fly around in wires through the jungle. Not before there are half a dozen songs with lyrics like ‘Life is love, love is life,’ each of them sounding suspiciously familiar like a really bad Hindi song interlude from the nineties.
Priyamani does okay but needs to hire a professional stylist, a costume designer and a dubbing artist (especially if that’s her real voice) while Jeevan needs to dub his films himself if he wants to retain his brand of subtlety. The support characters – played by Sampathraj, Livingston, Santhanabarathy, Thalaivasal Vijay and Charanraj – will make it to the great book of clichés and you can’t help but feel sorry for these actors who rarely get a role that lets them explore a few shades and a character graph that takes them places. If that’s the case with the support roles, you can imagine the quality of acting demanded from the Extras. Special mention to those four constables who, in a close-mid shot, cry when the cops say unmentionable things to the girl’s family. They made my day.
Overall, Thotta is racy for most parts, sprinting through the motions we have seen a hundred times before and yet continue to see only because our heroes give us no choice.
Only for the bored and the desperate.