There are three issues that collectively haunt Tamil Nadu right now - corruption, poor college education and IT jobs. You can pick any person off the road and question them about these issues and you can listen to a bucket load of exasperation. Unless, of course, the person happens to be a state board student who got their NEET results...in which case, you should leave them alone.
So what happens when you take all three subjects, mix them in a pot, add some fancy gadgets and get the common man to thwart an evil politician? Well, you get Director Kannan's latest film Ivan Thanthiran.
The movie stars Gautham Karthik and RJ Balaji in the lead. If the topics are not relatable enough already, the two of them are engineering dropouts who refuse to 'cave in to the system' and even run a successful electronics shop in Ritchie street. Gautham is likable enough and establishes himself as an intelligent 'reverse engineer', who will not expend his talent for free.
While they run their store and do odd jobs for a living, their main objective is to get a phone model that Gautham has designed approved by a company and make it big in the world of electronic engineering and design. But trouble starts when they are installing CCTVs in the Union Human Resource and Development Minister's residence. The Minister announces right then, that he will be shutting down 50 colleges that are not following AICTE(All India Council for Technical Education) norms.
RJ Balaji hails the decision but a realistic Gautham says students would be the ones suffering from this move. Unfortunately for them, the minister's brother-in-law hears this, refuses to pay them and even takes away their bike. This, our reverse engineers decide, necessitates revenge.
In the drama that follows next, even the Prime Minister makes a guest appearance. Yes, really. The tech-savvy hero fights with a weapon of mass destruction - memes - even as we listen to endless comments on how difficult the life of an engineering student is.
Yes, we are aware. If I trip, I will probably fall on four people with B.E degrees with two of them on a bench in an IT company.
To call RJ Balaji a mere comedian in this film, would not do him justice. Through the first half of the film, he possibly has more dialogues and screen space than even the hero. He uses current affairs to tickle the funny bone but this is sometimes counter-productive as he diffuses the tension that should match a situation with his constant rant. He talks about how employees suffer in IT jobs, takes a dig at PETA and even touches upon the NDA Government's flagship 'Make in India' programme.
But what really caused roars of laughter among the audience, is attempts made by qualified engineers to explain technical terms to an enraged villain. Super Subbarayan as the Union HRD Minister is a convincing baddie and easy to hate. It doesn't really make sense that a Central Minister is chilling in Chennai the whole time but he represents all things we hate about the political system - apathy, greed and a lack of regard for the law.
Okay, you are possibly wondering why I haven't mentioned the heroine. But in her own words in the film, she is a 'passing cloud' and much like the Tamil Nadu monsoon, doesn't really do much.
The romantic scenes with Shraddha Srinath are not quite convincing because she's introduced to us in a ridiculous sequence and it's hard to understand why exactly our man falls for her, considering her actions. The job interview scene is especially cringe worthy.
However, you get through it because with just a two hour duration, the narrative doesn't give you too much time to dwell on the heroine's scripted stupidity. But here is a warning about the climax - you will possibly ask what the scriptwriter was smoking.
Ivan Thanthiran is an uneven yet crisp entertainer with its hits and misses. Watch it for RJ Balaji and to reminisce about the four years of engineering you spent, wondering what you actually want to do with your life.
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