Sandalwood
The film follows a predictable masala plot but has enough suspense to keep you in your seat.

There’s a blood-soaked arm hanging out the side of an autorickshaw, a couple of young rowdies who are starting to resent the godfather who brought them into the business, several gangsters hacked or shot to death, and a woman who’s been kidnapped but doesn’t seem to mind it all that much. What’s the story behind all of this and what does Shivarajkumar have to do with it?

If you’ve been around social media more than a time or two, you’ve probably run into the meme that tells you in misspelled English that the human brain can easily read completely jumbled words as long as the first and last letters stay in place. Shivarajkumar’s Tagaru is much like that meme, jumbling up its narrative formula just to show that you can still have a coherent film at the end.

That back-and-forth jumble is perhaps the only thing that saves Tagaru from joining the heap of formula films told predictably. The film tells the done-to-death story of a cop going outside the bounds of law to violently put down rabid gangsters. But it manages to keep you in your seat just to figure out if all the loose ends get satisfactorily tied up at the end.

Along the way, there’s plenty of machismo on display and gratuitous violence, as gangsters ruthlessly hack down those in their way and the cops return the favour by shooting first and asking questions under gruesome torture later.

But, thanks to the effort to keep the suspense going, there’s also an agreeable minimum of punch dialogues and unnecessary comedy tracks are kept out of the film altogether. With plenty of swooping close-ups and quickly shifting scenes, especially in the first half of the film, director Suri ensures that Tagaru never has a chance to become very boring.

The acting in the film is fairly competent, and no one sticks out like a sore thumb. While Shivarajkumar maintains a stone-faced seriousness throughout, Dhananjaya and Vasishta N Simha are suitably menacing as the villains. There’s not much room for Manvitha and Bhavana to flesh out their characters, but they manage to hold their own.

The major highpoint of the film is the music by Charan Raj. Popping up at unexpected intervals thanks to the twisted storyline, songs like “Badukina Bannave”, “Mental Ho Jawa” and “Hold on” make for enjoyable interludes to the film.

Much like the dozens of other masala films that it shares its predictable script with, Tagaru certainly has a problematic take on the police and the law, once again portraying death by the bullet as the best form of justice. The film is also quite happy having its protagonist kidnap a woman "for her own good".

Still, if you’re looking to fill your masala quota of the month, you could do worse than give Tagaru a miss.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.