Director: A.L Vijay
Cast: GV Prakash, Suman
May contain spoilers.
Bad films, films with no redeeming factors, films that do nothing, viscerally or in any cerebral fashion can be found week in and week out. There are different categories of bad films and it is a topic that will take its own unthinking piece. Or two. A.L. Vijay’s Watchman is the worst kind of bad film. It has absolutely nothing going for it. It is made by people who never thought twice about what they are making, and it stars people who never saw the red flags. It also has characters who seem to be playing dumb. What more, the film also commits the cardinal sin – it not only takes its audience for granted, it also takes them for fools. Vijay thinks we cannot make out day from night. That we cannot make out the times of the day the events are set in. That in a 95-minute film, we would have forgotten what came fifteen minutes before. He might have been right about one thing. He probably assumed we wouldn’t have registered what happened. Because Watchman is that hard of a groan.
Watchman wants to be a thriller but ends up on the other side of that spectrum – a soporific exercise that makes 95 minutes seem like four hours of disturbed sleep. The film is about a home invasion gone wrong. G.V Prakash Kumar plays the role of an unemployed youth for the seven hundred and twenty ninth time. A loan shark is after him, his engagement is scheduled under difficult circumstances for the next day and as a desperate measure he turns to burglary. You might think the film is about events of one night, but it is really about the whole day. Vijay helpfully puts text on screen before showing us what transpired – the location of the event, the time of said event. After a point, I heard murmurs around me every time that text came on. Everyone wanted to hold Vijay’s collar and make him understand that we get it, we can tell when this happened, get on with the story, will you? As a result, the film limps along like an untrained runner on his last legs in a marathon, trying hard to make that tenth kilometre. Not only that, Vijay returns to the events to show us what happened while we were elsewhere. He fast-forwards over events that we have already seen. It is a miracle that this film is only 95 minutes. Yes, I don’t think I am going to stop complaining about the length of this film in this lifetime.
The house belongs to a decorated former police officer played by Suman who is holed up alone and some terrorists (presumably Naxalites in the context-less world of Watchman) have made the long journey to Chennai to take his life. About three-quarters of the film is set inside this house, the geography of which evades us. Vijay doesn’t want us to make out what is where or how big this place really is. From the events in this film, one would think this is more of a neighbourhood than a house. Trained terrorists wielding automatic weapons take a long time to figure out where two men are hiding inside a house. Trained terrorists take an eternity to figure out they are being tracked by CCTV camera. Who installs CCTV cameras inside their own home anyway? Trained terrorists, in the darkness, end up killing their own trained partners by mistake. At one point, there is a raging fire inside the house, the effects of which aren’t felt in any other part. This house is in Anna Nagar according to the film. If you’ve lived long enough in Chennai, you would have heard all the Anna Nagar jokes. My guess is indeed right, this house is not really a house but a neighbourhood within the walls of which rookies are bound to lose their way.
Using texts for so many things, Vijay decides against it for one thing that matters. He strangely dubs a loud Tamil voice over the terrorists talking in Hindi. Why not just use subtitles? Not that this film had any mood to kill. The background score is a conspicuous din that thinks it belongs in a better film. But one feels for the dog – Bruno – that probably doesn’t know how terrible Watchman is. Bruno deserves a better calibre of cinema. One day the retriever has a shot at the Palm Dog.
The Watchman 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.