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Thani Oruvan Review: A Dizzy Thriller

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Jayam Ravi in Thani Oruvan Movie Stills
Jayam Ravi in Thani Oruvan Movie Stills

Five strapping young men (and a woman) who have just entered the police force; a city teeming with underworld mafia, corrupt politicians, and crime at every turn… it all sounds familiar, but Thani Oruvan is something I haven’t seen before.

If I have a grouse about Thani Oruvan, it is that the first ten minutes are not as splendid as the rest of the movie.  There are fleeting whiffs of other cop-gangster thrillers from the past; a medley of scents, but boy does it smell nice. And, just as I try to pin down a possible influence, the movie gallops ahead. Not a brisk canter, mind, but a hurried four-legged gallop. It’s that fast; more like a rally that would have you crick your neck. Deuce. Advantage. And, Deuce again. In quick succession.

And then, just as you think the end is near, you realise it’s a freaking tie.

An impressive one at that.

Thani Oruvan flits past in a haze of drawn guns, blood (nearly as gory as Jigarthanda, but with a ‘U’ certificate), quick chase sequences that you could miss in a blink, an onslaught of strange faces, and –

Arvind Swamy.

I’m not quite sure what to make of him. He’s the villain of the piece, yet he has been dealt with differently. Very differently. The movie, despite its name, is really about two people. Not just the hero – Jayam Ravi, who, I realise, is pretty capable of donning a role as gritty as this – but also the villain, who’s treated like a hero. When Jayam Ravi unravels yet another knot in the mystery, the audience cheer him on, but when Arvind Swamy creates the knot, they are double as lusty. If Jigarthanda delved into the bowels of the city to fish out its tale, Thani Oruvan stays well above the muck. Organized white-collar crimes.

Arvind Swamy is David Carradine. But Jayam Ravi is Uma Thurman; an Uma Thurman who wasn’t shot at while at the altar. An Uma Thurman with no motive, except the Arjun-style patriotic fervour. Mithran (Jayam Ravi) becomes obsessed with his mission: Kill Siddharth (Arvind Swamy), but we get no other tale, no sordid flashback to validate the obsession. That’s probably a good thing – or perhaps, the first in the series of many cinematic allowances you’d be required to entertain.

*****

Nayanthara is used as a ‘lesson’. The first ten minutes are all about her. She’s an IPS officer too, but someone who threatens a man with ‘rape charges’ over a few bottles of liquor. Enter Jayam Ravi who teaches her what is right. She falls hard for him, stalks him, and talks to him even when he spurns her.

Repeatedly.

And that’s pretty much what we see of her, save for a few fleeting flicks of wavy, brown hair when convenient.

Thani Oruvan makes its gender known right in the title.

*****

M Raja cannily places Thambi Ramiah close to Arvind Swamy, sits back and watches the fun. As Arvind Swamy’s lackwit MLA father, he tempers the pace, reining things in when Swamy’s cool, calculated villainy gets a little overwhelming.

A favourite moment in the movie is when Swamy, in his characteristic drawl, tells Ramaiah that he’s ‘incorrigible’.

The sheer absurdity of the situation, the word, and the person it’s targeted at, is nothing if not amusing. I laugh. Thambi Ramiah – all puppy-faced incomprehension – isn’t far behind.

*****

The Thani Oruvan Review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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