Dhanush climbs on top of an out-of-control train that is speeding at 140 km/h, to save his girlfriend. Given his body frame, you might think he would be thrown off by the wind. But no. He manages to fight off robbers and throw them off the train instead. Later on, he starts dancing to Imman’s typical tunes – even when the compartment he is standing in is engulfed in flames. Prabhu Solomon must be one smooth talker to have managed to convince an actor like Dhanush to do this.
Poochiyappan (Dhanush), an orphan, is a pantry worker on the DC Express. All he wishes for in life is a small happy family to call his own. One day, he gets to serve an actress on board the train (are we in yesteryear?). He falls for her assistant, Saroja (Keerthy Suresh). He serves her a heart-shaped cutlet with an arrow across it made of ketchup. She doesn’t buy it. Later, he pretends that he knows lyricist Vairamuthu. She, being a loosu ponnu, believes him and befriends him. End of first half. Under very implausible circumstances, the train gathers speed and won’t stop. Will it be stopped? Will Poochi save the lives of all 742 lives? That forms the rest of this film.
The film is scattered with varied characters. A fallen politician (Radha Ravi) who says a few witty lines here and there. Chinni Jayanth as Jack, a railway officer whose experience with train accidents looks like it’s limited to toy trains. There’s a passenger who keeps asking the TTR for a berth (we all know that guy, or worse, we have been that guy). The story touches upon all of these characters in a random order. It doesn’t matter if the train is hurtling towards everyone’s death, it’s never too late for one of Thambi Ramaiah’s unfunny jokes. This is exactly why Thodari doesn’t work. It does not focus on the plight of these seven hundred and forty-two people. It doesn’t make us feel sorry for or concerned about them at any point.
There are a few actors who appear in roles they have done-to-death already. Thambi Ramaiah as the goofy and dumb senior among a group of youngsters. He constantly makes a fool of himself leaving us annoyed at his brand of humour which belongs to the 50s. Karunakaran plays the hero’s confidante again, doing nothing but churn out ‘funny’ lines at regular intervals. He has done this role before but with better scope and conviction, like in Jigarthanda. Ganesh Venkatraman plays the cop who thinks he is a supermodel. He tries to be deadpan serious and expressive at certain scenes. It’s never worked before. It doesn’t work this time either.
Airtel 4G has missed an excellent opportunity for product placement in the film. Throughout the film, the passengers inside the train enjoy seamless live transmitting of the news on HD on their phones and laptops.
The weirdest and most badly written of all these is the character of Harish Uthaman. He plays the main antagonist, an NSG Commando. Prabhu Solomon has written his character in a one-dimensional way: he is mad. We are not told why. We just see him quite literally chew down some 50 odd pills, and then hallucinate that his fully loaded gun is missing. He then belts out rabid death threats for no reason.
We see Keerthy Suresh for much longer than we did in Rajini Murugan, although we are not sure if it works in her favour. Hers is hands-down the silliest of woman characters we have seen in the recent past. She thinks that the rescue helicopter had arrived to evacuate ALL the passengers on the train. Really, girl? Or should we say, Reeeeally, Prabhu Solomon? Dhanush is practically neglected in most of the film, as neither the story nor the character demands much from the talented actor. The director could have cast any actor in this role and there is only so much the role demands. But yes, there are a few misogynist dialogues that the actor mouths, adding to his image of being the poster-boy for the misogynist Tamil youth.
Poorly written characters are only a small part of what is wrong with Thodari. The editing is completely shoddy, with jump cuts and unnecessary shots very evident throughout the film. A scene in which Dhanush and Thambi Ramiah exchange dialogue, constantly jumps between a few frames of each character. We wonder how the scene got okay-ed, given that the scene was unnecessary in the first place. The camera angles are weird. We are mostly treated to uncomfortably close up shots, or to shots that are completely out of focus in the stunt scenes. The visual effects of the flora and fauna surrounding the train’s path are borrowed from Temple Run. You can check.
The biggest flaw is the very style of filmmaking. If Mynaa and Kumki had a touch of realism in them, Prabhu Solomon makes up for it with Thodari which is hammed with cinematic nuances which are simply not a part of his cinema in particular – and cinema in general, these days. A very good example of the immaturity in the filmmaking is when we see the passengers in the train cheering and exchanging hi-fives when the helicopter arrives for the rescue. When it fails, they all let out a disappointed ‘Ohhhh’ and begin biting their nails. Another such instance is when the train crosses an ancient bridge safely and the journalists near the spot begin to clap and whistle. After these many films, is this what Prabhu Solmon is treating us to?
And finally, after a posterior-numbing 168 minutes of runtime, we think perhaps ‘thodarum’‘ would have been a better title for the film.
The Thodari 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 any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.