In the introduction sequence of Karthi in the movie Sardar, there is a line the character says about his social media persona. He says something like he wants to set a template rather than being in an already set template. But frankly, when you finish watching Sardar, you might want to tell both PS Mithran and Karthi that they are both trapped in templates. With a pile of genre cliches, convenient placement of twists, and generic hero-worshipping, Sardar is a stretched-out spy-thriller with no aspirations to be unique.
Inspector Vijay Prakash is a social media star who is desperate for attention. This validation-seeking mentality came to him because of his father’s history, a RAW agent who betrayed his country. But at one point, Vijay comes across a murder case with certain links with national intelligence. How that case eventually connects him with his long-lost father is what we see in Sardar.
Cyber security, intelligence, hacking, etc., are PS Mithran’s favorite domains, and with Sardar also, he is in that same space. The only difference is that a spy is at the center of everything to make things look very slick. But the man who made a focused Irumbu Thirai is struggling in Sardar as he is forced to create a star vehicle Deepavali release. One of the very first scenes in the film has a newly formed political party thinking about social media strategy. And it is a scene that is created only for pitching a hero entry sequence. At a time when almost every major star and director have moved on from the corporate villain story idea, Mithran is still stuck in that zone. If Irumbu Thirai is about data security and privacy, Sardar talks about the consequences of the commercialization of drinking water. But this time, the narrative is a lot more preachy and unimpactful.
The problem with the movie is its amateurish writing that treats geopolitical tensions and intelligence operations with broad strokes. Stylizing intelligence operations are acceptable when the film is pitched in the commercial format. But the kind of spoonfeeding Mithran does through dialogues and explanations takes out the juice from a popcorn spy thriller. The rapport of the two Karthis’ with the child was something that I liked, and that patch perhaps showed the cinematic sensibility Mithran promised when he debuted in 2018. The antagonist has a significant role in the story for sure. But the characterization is very cartoonish. The visuals maintain the style factor, especially in the fight sequences.
The present of Vijay and the past of Sardar has Karthi playing the role with his standard set of expressions. The older version of Sardar definitely looks odd due to the makeup, and seeing him fight in that attire almost reminded me of Salman Khan in Bharath. Raashi Khanna’s character seemed important to the film in the beginning portions, but as the movie progressed, her character faded away. Rajisha Vijayan, whose character is paired with Sardar, doesn’t have much screen time to showcase her talent. Laila’s Sameera also gets very minimal screen time. In terms of character placement, the antagonist Maharaj Rathore played by Chunky Pandey, is pretty exciting. The master angle of that character which makes Sardar look like a rogue agent, should have been a stage for a more compelling drama. But sadly, Pandey couldn’t save that character from that caricature space.
Karthi is someone who tasted success with Kaithi, which came as a Deepavali release without any commercial gimmicks. PS Mithran was someone who managed to make a debut film that was close to its subject. But when these two talents joined hands, they made an underwhelming and familiar spy thriller that you sit through without excitement.
With a pile of genre cliches, convenient placement of twists, and generic hero-worshipping, Sardar is a stretched-out spy-thriller with no aspirations to be unique.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended