Vendhu Thaninthadhu Kaadu - A Scorching Gangster Thriller
After “Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya” and “Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada” the magical combination of director Gautham Vasudev Menon and Simbu is back again, this time in a pure gangster thriller story. This was certainly one I wasn’t going to miss, as Simbu looks to continue his comeback and GVM seemingly tries to step out of his comfort zone.
The story follows Muthu, a young village boy who is sent by his mother to his uncles’ parotta shop in Mumbai to try and make some money and help pay off his family debt. However, what he doesn’t realise is that he has been sent to the doorstep of Mumbai’s criminal underworld. How he navigates this web of crime, and attempts to survive, is what forms the core plot.
There’s only one place to start. Simbu is well and truly in full flow of his cinematic comeback and rebirth. Whenever he teams up with GVM we always see the talented actor in him that we wish was shown more often.
Whether it’s the initial fear, confusion and hesitancy or the growing confidence, determination and rage, Simbu shows all the weapons in his acting arsenal here. He carries the film really well and commands the screen in every scene.
The biggest plus points for the film come in the technical aspects and sit with the director. Firstly, the screenplay works extremely well. It doesn’t waste time setting us up — we’re straight into the how and why Muthu gets where is, and we’re straight into the world he ends up falling into. From there on the movie’s key events all fall into line perfectly and at a good pace.
The second is the camera work. There is a lot of points in the film where the use of single take shots is evident and it does a great job in keeping us engaged and more importantly immersed. The use of light in the film and the different colour grading is also interesting, usually fitting in with the type of characters on screen, emotions conveyed or the events taking place.
The third is the music. I found it pleasantly surprising that AR Rahman took a different approach to what you’d normally expect in a traditional gangster film. Instead of a peppy, badass set of tunes he decides to go soulful and emotional, in line with our protagonist Muthu who doesn’t really feel “macho” or “badass” about the situation he’s in — he simply wants to get out of it, so it actually makes sense. However, the music itself is fantastic and is quintessentially Rahman.
Finally, another big win for the film is how good it’s characterization is. It doesn’t just stop at Muthu, each character in the film is given room to breathe and express themselves, and whether we love or hate them we enjoy getting to know them all. Even inanimate objects like a gun for example, are characterized in their own way. In fact, Muthu’s gun probably has an argument to be the best written character.
The movie isn’t without its flaws though. While I’ve praised GVM for seemingly trying to get out of his comfort zone and do a pure, gritty gangster film, he does seem to have stayed in his romance formula that he does so well and included a romantic sub plot here. While it’s practical and works, it does feel unnecessary and adds to the runtime where it probably wasn’t needed.
The songs execution felt off to me too, with the exception of “Mallipoo”. In fact that felt like the only song I didn’t mind interrupting the plot for.
In summary, the film is a scorching gangster thriller with twists, turns, betrayal and revenge, taking you straight into the Mumbai underworld and making you feel like you’re right in the thick of it. It’s some of GVM’s best work and cements Simbu right back in the heart of Tamil cinema, displaying just how good he can be.
The film even sets up a sequel that you just feel is going to take the character of Muthu to new levels an exciting prospect.
“Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu” is out now in cinemas only.