Kamal Haasan's Thoonga VanamL A taut thriller
Kamal Haasan's Thoonga Vanam promises a racy journey through the life of an aging cop, writes Deepa Gauri.
By Deepa Gauri
Published: Wed 11 Nov 2015, 11:00 PM
Last updated: Thu 12 Nov 2015, 9:59 AM
WHEN IT PREMIERED at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, the French film Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night) was instantly hailed for its most elaborate set-piece, a fight scene in a kitchen between two men, both no great fighters. That one scene defined the film about an aging cop whose son is kidnapped by a drug dealer in lieu for the drugs he has with him.
The film has generous shades of grey that apparently piqued the fancy of Kamal Haasan. Thus is born his third movie this year, Thoonga Vanam, an official remake that the actor himself has scripted. Kamal also entrusts the task of directing the film to his long-time associate Rajesh M. Selva.
In an earlier interview with City Times, Kamal said that Thoonga Vanam was "going to be a racy thriller that will give you an adrenaline high." If reports from India, where the film has released to rewarding box office returns, are to go by, he has delivered on his promise.
Thoonga Vanam, however, is not a scene-by-scene remake of the French film, says the team behind the film. What sets it apart are the vintage Kamalesque touches that the actor brings to every movie of his.
Much like Uttama Villain, where viewers walked away with the feeling that the film had autobiographical shades, without going by star formulae, Thoonga Vanam too has Kamal playing against the gallery.
As Diwaker, an aging divorced cop, he is not the angry young man who rushes to rescue damsels in distress. This cop will make you suspect his true intentions; you are not even sure if he is 'the good cop.' Such approaches are typical of Kamal.
After all, in his oeuvre of movies, there are but a handful of cop stories, each cop different from the other in daring originality. Shankar in Oru Kaidhiyin Diary is way apart from Murali of Kakki Sattai while Adhi Narayan of Kuruthipunal was in a league of his own.
With Thoonga Vanam, Kamal focuses squarely on the plot and painstakingly recreates the 'kitchen fight.' The camera was hardly anchored and the 'on the move' execution by Sanu Verghese (a favourite of Kamal) is aimed at giving that visceral feel that keeps you on tenterhooks.
Kamal had said how the French original keeps cinematic frills to the minimum with clearly defined characters with great back-stories. He follows the pattern in Thoonga Vanam too that has an ensemble cast including Trisha (her 50th movie), as a cop; Prakash Raj and Sampath as gangsters; and Asha Sharath, as Kamal's wife.
Roping in Gibran, another favourite of Kamal for music, Thoonga Vanam gives viewers exactly what they seek - two-and-a-half odd hours of thrill. But they also have a bonus: The inimitable Kamal stamp of social commentary. Watch the star in action this week at theatres in the UAE.