Thangachi Pasam has been the go-to ingredient of some of the major star films in Tamil cinema in the recent past, especially the ones which catered to the B and C center audience. While others were specific about their own sisters, Pandiraj makes his hero the “Annan” of the whole society in Etharkkum Thunindhavan. If you were okay with preachy village drama movies, Kadaikkutty Singam, Namma Veettu Pillai, etc. I would say Etharkkum Thunindhavan will feel like a passable movie. With too much “sacrificial heroism,” Etharkkum Thunindhavan wants to lecture its audience about women’s safety, dignity, etc.
Adv. Kannabiran is our hero. At the beginning of the movie, we are shown that he has committed murders, and he claims that he just killed the weeds and it wasn’t a crime. Then we go to the story’s flashback, set in the backdrop of a village. Two sides who used to be on friendly terms had disputes for the last two years because of a suicide. The story took a turn when Kannabiran was approached by a girl for protection as she was threatened by the minister’s son Inba, who was running a sex trafficking business. The clash between Inba and Kannabiran is the soul of Etharkkum Thunindhavan.
It’s like an assembled story that wants to complete the checklist. In the typical rural drama style, we get a voice-over narration that will tell us about the rituals of the village. Then we have the hero introduction fight, followed by a song. Then the family comedy happens along with the introduction of the “cute” heroine. The second half is full of advice on being a good parent, respecting women, etc. Towards the climax, we have police taking away Kannabiran and hundreds of women chanting his name as their brother and even tossing flowers at him. While Udanpirappe and Annatthe felt like annoying creations, Etharkkum Thunindhavan is slightly on the better side; it just feels usual.
We have Bella Ciao playing in the backdrop and Suriya with his specs mimicking the professor in one scene. So Pandiraj is confident that the B and C center audience has exposure to Spanish content. But yet he wants to cater the same old masala to this updated audience. Instant justice is a theme that the masses always have an inclination towards. It has always been a justification for some movies to cover up their imaginative laziness. In the case of Etharkkum Thunindhavan also, that creative laziness is clearly visible. D Imman’s songs are peppy enough to create a celebration ambiance. Rathnavelu’s cinematography uses silhouette shots and tilted camera angles to enhance style.
For Suriya, this film works mainly in being the star. Pandiraj accentuates Suriya’s charming looks in all possible ways. You have him dancing in different getups, doing stunts with grace, and emoting effectively in emotional sequences. Priyanka Mohan was fine as Aadhini, and she was able to make the viewer empathize with the character through her performance, despite Pandiraj trying to make Aadhini that “cute” face. Sathyaraj and Saranya Ponvannan play the cool parents of Kannabiran. Inba is easily the least exciting negative role played by Vinay. Pandiraj doesn’t have any interest in adding layers to that character. Thus, we have him trying to look menacing through the attitude shown on screen. Like any other rural drama, the character pool is elaborate. We have plenty of actors playing roles with limited screen time.
Rural drama is a genre in Tamil that has no plans to evolve in terms of structure. At one point, Kannabiran is threatened by the villain, Inba, that he will publish the videos of the girls of the village if Kannabiran decides to go ahead with the case against Inba. In the middle of Kannabiran trying to find a solution for that, Pandiraj chooses to insert the song Summa Surrunu. In the climax, the women who chanted in support of Kannabiran would have hesitated if they knew about Summa Surrunu.
With too much "sacrificial heroism," Etharkkum Thunindhavan wants to lecture its audience about women's safety, dignity, etc.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended