Kalyaan has a fondness for conmen. Scratch that. Conwomen. In his previous film Gulebagavali, he brought back Masha from Arangetravelai, giving Revathy a role that women actors of her age seldom play. In Jackpot, the premise is very simple - everything a "mass" hero can do, a "mass" heroine can do. Or do it better. The film rides on the hope that the novelty will keep it afloat because otherwise, all it attempts to be is a leave-your-brains-outside-the-
Jackpot begins in 1918, jumps to 1999 and then arrives at 2019. All three timelines are relevant to the plot, with storylines that converge in the climax. Such films need solid writing to keep them going, especially if they are comedic capers. But Kalyaan's idea of hilarity is on the lines of getting his leading ladies to stick their tongues out and pull a face to "disguise" their real identities when they are stuck in a tight spot. Almost like watching a circus with only out-of-date clown acts.
Masha (Revathy) and Akshu (Jyothika) are two conwomen on the hunt for an akshayapatram that's buried in a cowshed. If you don't know it already, an akshayapatram is a mythical vessel which gives more of what you put into it. This is the big jackpot that they've waited for all their lives and in the adventure to get it, they encounter various characters. Yogi Babu is one of them, once again self-debasing himself to provide laughs. There's an attempt to justify all the body shaming (he says his face isn't good enough for even cleaning cowdung) and render it in positive light towards the end, but it still rankles to have lines like "Which Andaman Island are you from?" passed off as comedy. I'm really not going to elaborate in how many different ways this is plain wrong.
Revathy and Jyothika appear to have had a blast on the sets, especially in the songs which are fun to watch. The two of them are dressed in bright, colourful clothes, employing a body language that's seldom allowed for women on screen. This is why Jackpot is all the more disappointing because this could have been such a great film if only Kalyaan had not tried to make every second of the film funny - it's an akshayapatram of bad jokes, with one cropping up after another. The effort shows painfully, from the flat jokes to the background score which belongs to an '80s comedy and is present in every frame like an annoying fly buzzing around your face.
Anand Raj as Maanasthan, an aspiring politician, and his lackeys offer some laughs. The sketch with Pubg (a holy woman name adopted by Masha) is marginally funny but it ends with a joke on a wife eagerly wanting a boy child because she has three girls. It's such tone-deaf writing that made me feel like the poster girl for "Beti Bachao" (from the theatre) by the end of the film. And are people still laughing about Motta Rajendran's voice? Really? STILL?
What actually works in Jackpot are the action sequences. Jyothika reconstructs scenes from "mass" male hero scenes, including Kamal's transformation moment from Vishwaroopam and Suriya's Singam punch dialogue, and pulls it all off comfortably. The actor is agile and looks convincing in these portions which have been shot well too. She even gets a "paambu" joke, Rajinikanth style. Revathy, needless to say, makes the best of what she gets.
Well, at least the two women seem to have had a lot of fun doing this film though one can't say the same for the audience.
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.