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Thoppi Review: Learning to Scare

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What is appealing about Thoppi – more than its quirky tale – is the general lack of romance. Yes, there is the inevitable duet, and a few stolen moments amidst the trees, but all that aside, Thoppi clearly knows it has a bigger agenda: to narrate the tale of a quirky little village. There are perhaps only a handful of movies in Tamil cinema that have bravely trudged past the lure of romance the past year. Jigarthanda was one. And despite Thoppi being compared to Mynaa, and other Prabhu Solomon movies thanks to the rustic setting, it is more in the league of Mundasuppatti – an offbeat, humorous village drama (without the romance, of course).

Because, for a movie made on a modest budget, Thoppi is well-armoured. Charming rural landscape, eccentric characters, and a quirkier title. Indeed, as the new ‘inspector’ at the police station in Kurunji Medu – the tiny hillock where the movie is set – would soon discover.

His suitcase gets stolen seconds after he authoritatively tells a local that he’s a cop.

And, it’s the tale (a curious one, at that) of this strange little village that Thoppi seeks to narrate. A strange village populated by stranger – and consequentially, entertaining – occupants. A generation of robbers (who proudly call themselves the Kutra Parambarai) whose head masquerades as a god man, a rundown police station which has seen a few murders, and a ‘constable’ who is more than what he seems. The humour is dry; as offbeat and funny as the crooked old lady who terrorizes a cop into giving her money, or the cop’s wife who urges the constable to bring home some ‘maan kari’, met with a sharp rebuke from her husband, who gravely calls it an offence and requests some succulent crabs instead – and, the seemingly guileless locals who can effortlessly rob an ATM.

One can only wonder what Thoppi could have achieved if it had been made and marketed by producers like CV Kumar; with a tighter screenplay, and featured actors capable of making horror (yes!) actually seem frightening.

*****

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