Vijay Sethupathi's latest film, the much awaited (and delayed) Sindhubaadh, is quite similar to a pair of pants. More specifically, it is like a pair of ripped jeans that your grandmother found hanging unattended and decided to sew back with various scraps of material she had collected over the last decade. And while your grandmother may be pleased with herself and present it with flourish, you are left, to put it simply - bamboozled.
This 'romance-action' film directed and written by Arun Kumar, travels across four countries for a plot that could have been explained in two lines. It stars Vijay Sethupathi as Thiru, a small-time thief, Surya Vijay Sethupathi as his protege 'Super', and Anjali as Venba, a contract employee from Malaysia. Thiru meets Venba at a town in southern India when she comes to stay with her family and is immediately smitten. And while love at first sight is a common trope, this movie takes a gamble on love at first sound (!!). Thiru is hard of hearing and Venba who is naturally loud, is deemed the perfect mate for him.
Except, she vehemently refuses to marry him on account of him being a thief (what did he expect?). But of course, when it comes to the word 'no' from a woman, most Tamil heroes turn deaf and Thiru is no different. He stalks her persistently, follows her to temples, comes to her home and even steals her chain (romantic much?) to make her fall in love with him. And long story short, she does.
And if this love story is not grating enough, it turns out this entire rigmarole was unnecessary because we haven't even gotten to the main plot yet. Tired already? Imagine us.
Once the duets are over, it is time for Venba to go back to Malaysia to get the money she earned and settle some loans. But unexpected trouble awaits.
The director's intention seems to have been to showcase the struggle the two face in an effort to get back together. But this is where all the extra material is stitched into the plot. For seemingly no reason, Thiru gets into trouble with Ling, a gangster in Thailand who smuggles drugs and trades organs. For most part of the film thereafter, Super and Thiru are constantly on the run. From a small-time thief, Thiru has now transformed into a man-beating machine as he and Super fight their way through this Asian journey. Meanwhile Venba, who is supposed to be in trouble, gets minimum screen time.
The violence and gore would have elevated the tension in the plot line if we were even a bit convinced that any of the protagonists was in actual danger. Thiru literally runs in circles around the villain, who is described as dangerous and "psycho". In one scene, the protagonists actually use a catapult to fight a machine gun.
Most of the scenes in the film, from the very beginning, seem like an afterthought. For instance, the only time the word "Sindhubaadh" is used in the film, is when Thiru's fake passport carries the name. The obvious link to Sindbad the sailor, ends with the narrative of a journey. The travel here is neither by sea nor to earn riches.
Similarly, the very first scene of the movie shows a man willingly receive blows from strangers to earn money. "I have to save my daughter," he yells at his attacker. And while the director tries to link this into the screenplay later in the movie, the lack of coherence and context is staggering.
The factors that work in favour of the film, however, are the cinematography, stunts and comic sequences. Surya and Vijay share crackling chemistry on screen and feed off each other's energy effortlessly. The scenes where they launch into comedy had most of the audience guffawing. Even when the screenplay fails them, the two actors manage to hold their own in a torrent of random shots. With fight scenes dominating the movie, the variety in stunt sequences helps ease the monotony. And cinematographer Dinesh Krishnan presents a beautiful Tamil Nadu village with water cascading though its rivers. With the water scarcity in Chennai, your heart would yearn to walk right into the screen. As the characters move to Thailand and later Cambodia, the yellow tones in the scenes, give an image of murky waters.
But this is not enough to hold your interest through the two and a half hours of the film, as it stretches on. The deviations to the plot distract you from what you are essentially there to do - root for two lovers to unite.
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.