Thaanaa Serndha Koottam Review: Mass Film Which Pulls Off a Heist
‘Thaanaa Serndha Koottam’ is entertaining, interesting and a laugh riot.
Remember the 1987 Opera House heist of Mumbai ?
Mon Singh placed a classified advertisement asking for "Dynamic Graduates for Intelligence Officers Post and Security Officers Post". He rented an office space, selected 26 candidates and asked them to report to the Taj and briefed them about the 'mock raid.' They arrived at the Opera House, produced a search warrant, picked "samples" of jewellery and sealed them in polybags – pulling off a full-fledged fake raid leaving the police clueless till date.
That is Thaanaa Serndha Koottam for you.
'Special 26' Commercialised
Calling the film an adaptation would be better fitting than terming it a remake of the Bollywood film Special 26, which starred Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher and Manoj Bajpayee. The movie has been turned around to suit the Tamil audience, sprinkling a couple of punch dialogues, Senthil comedy and Ramya Krishnan swag.
It is set in pre-liberalisation India when unemployment was one of the biggest concerns and jobs were sought at the exchange of a hefty parcel with a wad of notes. True even in today’s times.
Iniyan (Suriya) aspires to become a CBI officer and his friend (Kalaiarsaran) a cop. But of course, the system stands in the way of their dreams and the hero watches his friend fall to his death, frustrated at not having the money to buy the job he desires.
The real fun begins when Suriya and his gang – Ramya Krishna (the fake name Jhansi Rani), Senthil, Sathyan and Sivashankar – pose as CBI officers and pull off raids. Each character has a back story – tired of being unemployed, rejected, standing in queue, no money to pay as bribe.
Then there is the heroine Keerthy Suresh who appears in glimpses through the movie but stands out for her bold, catchy one-liners.
Nandha is a police officer who is called by Suriya to assist for the first raid and is also part of the CBI team trying to solve the case.
The villain Suresh Menon, with his stellar acting, can fool the audience for a real-life CBI officer.
A hero of the 80s, Karthik enters as the special officer requested to take up the case and though he loses steam at several places, he does a fair job.
CBI officers riding in a deep blue Fiat Premier Padmini along Mount Road, bill boards of Kamal Haasan and ‘Gold Spot’ bottles adorning the shelves of road side eateries – you are transported to Madras in the ‘80s.
What makes it stand out is how the actors are dressed in bell-bottoms, actresses in half-saris and long skirts, and references made to Kamal Haasan’s dialogues and tiled-roof houses.
No Drama, Just Comedy
The movie cannot be treated like hardcore drama.
Except for an occasional ‘Singham’ Suriya who struts around in his neatly-tucked in formals and cool shades, the movie is full of ‘Aadhavan’ and ‘Perazhagan’ Suriyas – bursting with comedy.
Ramya Krishnan is absolutely a ‘Neelambari’ when she leads the troop for the raids and snaps into the scared, docile caring mother of too many girls that I lost count, the perfect fit with Suriya.
A handful of characters trying to ace the interviews to get recruited into the fake-CBI leave you cracking – they are named Paneerselvam, Vijaykanth, and Sasikala – all of whom talk about fighting corruption in the society.
RJ Balaji’s innocent digs at local beverages being replaced by foreign ones and taxes on movie tickets are on point.
The gang’s tryst in Hyderabad’s Old City is a hoot with none of the fake-officers adept in conversing in Hindi or Telugu.
Suriya’s height becomes the butt of a joke but the hero gives it back in the finale.
There is a reason why the subtitle of this article has to be named after the title song. That’s how bombastic it is.
Anirudh Ravichander has put on his kuthu hat mixing the folk flavour and local beats leaving the audience humming and tapping feet.
It is not just the retro beats, the apt lyrics will channel all the anger inside you towards the corrupt system.
The songs are vibrant, Suriya’s grooves are perfect and the background score heightens the impact left behind by the actor’s timely comedy.
Hero-Centric Film Leaves Too Many Loose Ends
But of course, the film has its share of problems.
We don’t know what happens to Keerthy Suresh, or why the actor, who left the audience always wanting for more, was given so little screen space.
Karthik’s acting and dialogues lack lustre in so many places leaving you yearning for the scene to move on to the fake CBI gang. The songs sequences are too abrupt, but the fast beats are a compensation.
Real Is Fake. Fake Is Real
The timing of the movie’s release is perfect.
Such has been the turmoil in the political landscape of Tamil Nadu.
The movie left me wondering – Rs 1,430 crore was allegedly found at raids conducted in Jaya TV and places linked to Sasikala. What happened to it? What else was found? Answers to several such cases are still pending.
Maybe it is time to place an advertisement in the newspaper, find a koottam (gang) and start the raids.
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