Critic - No.144

Director: Vignesh Shivan
Casts: Surya, Ramya Krishnan, Keerthy Suresh, Karthik, Suresh Menon, Senthil, Siva Shankar
Music: Anirudh
Language: Tamil
Genre: Action / Comedy / Crime

Loosely based on the Opera House heist that happened in 1987, ‘TSK’ revolves around a team of con artists who pose as CBI agents to conduct raids to swindle money from corrupted businessmen. What happened when they are tracked down by the real CBI agents?
After giving two quirky, fresh films, young director Vignesh Shivan has clinched the opportunity to direct a top league actor at a very early stage of his career. However this time, he has adapted a critically acclaimed Hindi film, ‘Special 26 (2013)’ has a source for this next film’s content. Of course, if you have seen ‘Special 26’, you will know that ‘Thaan Serntha Kootam (TSK)’ is vastly different in terms of presentation, characters and screenplay. 

The film starts off with RJ Balaji’s interview struggles and how he is pushed to accept any job despite his qualifications. The main theme is rapidly established and the director moves on by introducing Surya’s life and his own problems of getting employed. Vignesh Shivan does not wait longer and introduces the main con-man story and translates the film in a racy cat and mouse chase between the con artists and the cops. 

Unlike ‘Special 26’, Vignesh Shivan injects interesting back stories of each of the characters and engineers that back stories into their current motives. This makes the film more emotional than its source. The natural nuance of the content is treated with colours, fast numbers and slapstick comedies. Vignesh Shivan’s comic timing gives this version a more engaging factor to a bigger spectrum of audience compared to the focused, artsy execution in ‘Special 26’. Occasionally Vignesh stumbles upon a few tonal inconsistencies especially when he pieces an emotional scene and a comedy sequence back to back that dilutes the intensity of the former. 

Dinesh Krishnan’s vibrant cinematography and Anirudh’s music helps the film to maintain its quirky treatment. The young composer has matured so much and the usual complains of over powering the visuals are definitely absent in this. Even though the second half gets a little draggy, ‘TSK’ is a rare film where the songs enhances the pacing and viewing experience. 

We see Surya in a ‘boy next door’ look and his casual delivery after a very long time. His extreme versatility comes in handy in such a dynamic role. Seasoned actress Ramya Krishnan (originally played by Anupam Kher) stuns us with her excellent comic timing. After being stereo typed for intense and negative roles, the talented actress comes back with an out and out comical role after a decade. Veteran actor Senthil makes a decent, memorable comeback while Satish, Kalayarasan and Siva Shankar have a few moments to shine. RJ Balaji has evolved as an actor in this film with a matured and controlled delivery. 

Talking about character designs, ‘TSK’ lacks a formidable force that might have worked well to set an urgency to the film. Suresh Menon (Puthiya Mugam fame) sets out to be a promising antagonist in the first half but soon gets over shadowed by the entry of Karthik who is driven to catch the con team. But both of their characters fizzles out after a while with them losing to Surya at obstacles after obstacles. Their one dimensional characters just doesn’t fit this film that have a bunch of other deeper characters. 

The climax that made ‘Special 26’ authentic and brilliant is a big miss in the film. Yes, ‘TSK’ has a different intention to dig deeper on the politics of India and different set of spectators, but the preachy ending with massy fight looks a little farfetched for a content like this. After setting off as a realistic entertainer, ‘TSK’ just finishes off in a filmy fashion. That said, whether the ending works for you depends on the type of audience you are. 

With a few more commercial cinematic liberties in hand, TSK is a colourful version of its source material that flies high in entertainment and brings back the casual actor in Surya after a long time. 



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