Heist comedy is an exciting genre. There’s plenty of action, risky plans that involve extreme stunts and, more importantly, there’s plenty of thrills. Often for us the audience, there’s excitement from having watched a perfectly executed heist on screen, the more impossible it looks the more thrilled we are.
But in actor Jiiva’s Gorilla we only end up feeling robbed of our time and money, and generally sad from realising that such films are still being made. Turns out, the film’s posters showing a group of people, armed and striking a pose, standing along with a stylish looking gorilla carrying a machine gun is the most elaborate trick the makers pulled on us.
Gorilla, directed by Don Sandy who made his debut with Mahabalipuram in 2015, is a confused film that feels like a half-hearted effort right from the start. For one, the film’s hero is not someone you want to meet or befriend.
Jiiva plays Jeeva, a con man who cheats people in different ways on a daily basis. In the mornings, he leaves home neatly dressed, boards the bus to pocket the 100, 500 and 2000 rupee notes that people pass in the bus for tickets. In the afternoon, he works at a pharmacy from where he swipes strips of tablet to be sold later at his own clinic. In the evenings, if you haven’t already figured it out, he is a fake doctor who prescribes the medicines he’s stolen from the pharmacy to his patients. Hero? What hero?
Sathish as a guy who recently lost his job and Vivek Prasanna as an aspiring actor are his friends/roommates and the three live along with Kong the chimpanzee. There’s a boring back story, which feels like it has been lifted from Planet of the Apes, to how they found Kong. This, we’re told in animation format when the title credits play.
It seems Kollywood has entered into a secret pact where any film that releases in 2019 must discuss politics, must have a social message. How to take care of this angle in Gorilla? The team perhaps wrote down different social issues in chits, dropped them into a glass bowl and made Kong himself pick it out. And what do we have? Farmers issue it is!
Sadik is a poor, debt-ridden farmer who contemplates suicide. As a last resort, he moves to Chennai temporarily to try to secure a bank loan. Now Jeeva’s neighbour, Sadik persuades the jobless trio into robbing a bank to end all their difficulties. How to justify a bank robbery involving three jobless men, one con man included? With the poor farmer tagging along, the film comes off like a Robin Hood story, doesn’t it? Throw in a bunch of dialogues on how farmers in the country are made to suffer and in the process belittle their suffering and you get a poorly executed screen drama.
Shalini Pandey’s Tamil debut (her introductory scene even had bubbles) could not have been less memorable. She plays Jhansi who is at first conned by Jeeva but then ends up falling for him after he incessantly stalks her. Remember, Jeeva is the kind of person you wished you didn’t know in real life. Jhansi’s role is mainly as Jeeva’s love interest and almost non-existent in the rest of the film. Even though she is present throughout the film, you get to see very less of her, hear her even lesser.
In addition to Kong and Jhansi there are plenty of underutilised characters in Gorilla. Perhaps the writers wrote down too many characters to keep track of? There’s an unnecessary characterisation for Motta Rajendran as the local barber, who also suddenly decides to rob a bank. Yogi Babu’s character seems to be written with the aim of making distasteful jokes about his appearance. Lines like “remove your gorilla mask” directed at him seem deliberate and pitiable.
Sathish mouths most of the insults in this ‘comedy’, not sparing the gorilla either. He calls the animal ‘kottanguchi moonji’ (face like coconut shell). A lower level in comedy hasn’t been reached.
In 2018 came Itly, another heist comedy starring Saranya Ponvannan, Kovai Sarala and Kalpana (late). That Gorilla reminded us very much of this film, in which three elderly women plan to rob a bank because they were robbed at one, is explanation enough to tell you where this film stands.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.