Tamizh Padam 2 is a reviewer's dream.
And this is not because it elevates the art of filmmaking. I call it a dream because it duly takes a jibe at scenes from mainstream films that have made movie-goers cringe and question all their life choices.
The movie is the cathartic outlet you need to laugh away the pain of suspending reality every time you enter a movie theatre.
From Baahubali to Bairavaa, Veeram to Vivegam and Santosh Subramaniam to Saamy, you name it and director CS Amudhan has spared nobody in this film. The movie is a commentary on the state of cinema in Kollywood, what passes off as 'mass' and the complete lack of logic that audiences are forced to deal with. In a way, Tamizh Padam 2 is a review of the Tamil industry, one which the Producers' Council cannot bristle over, dismiss or brush away with its usual 'we have worked hard' excuse.
The film revolves and rests on the shoulders of an able Shiva, whose very presence on screen brings a smile to the faces in the audience. Everyone is laughing even before he gets to the end of the joke because his deadpan expressions are so in contrast with the wild statements written out for him. The actor plays a policeman who is on a mission to find an international terrorist - P.
This plot into which we've seen almost every mainstream hero plunge headfirst (arguably without thought), gives the director and actor a huge canvas to poke holes in. This is where films like Vikram Vedha, Sandakarra and Thuppaki are all dragged in.
But these were the better of the lot, weren't they?
Well it doesn't matter to Amudhan. He rips them all to shreds, using dialogues to create an organic flow of humour, seamlessly moving from one movie to another. Just when you begin guffawing over his dig at Surya's Singam, he has already moved on to Ajith's Vivegam. In a theatre of 200 people, it is likely that every single person is laughing at a different joke at the same time.
Amudhan carefully plans the mise-en-scene of his shots to evoke laughter, with even Obama making an appearance if you notice carefully enough. The sets of Aramm, Kabali and even Game of Thrones are exploited, to leave the audience amused.
But what I see as the biggest success of this film, is how it exposes the mindset of the industry when it comes to scripting a woman lead in a film. The heroines in Tamizh Padam 2 are constantly dying - a reference to the 'damsel in distress' role that our directors love to give women actors. And when they do stay alive, the hero has two conditions - one, she has to look like a 'maidha maavu' and two, she has to be loosu.
The simple acknowledgment and then ridicule of this pattern, lends strength to the battle against it. Songs like 'Evan di unna pethan' and 'Adi da avala' see a much-delayed gender-reversal, laying bare the misogyny in the 'soup' song genre.
The film's political overtones too, have to be mentioned . What even mainstream films are now afraid to criticise, Tamizh Padam takes on with candour. From the 'Sasikala Sabadham' to the 'OPS Dharmayudham', politics in the state over two years is a treasure trove for any comedian. And if you listen closely enough, you may even discover one little nugget about a certain 'thatha'.
That being said however, not all jokes in the film work and this is not from lack of trying. There are moments when the audience is left waiting for a good line to tickle their funny bone. The movie's jokes are not clever like a Panchatantiram, they are merely slapstick. And like any other spoof, the humour relies heavily on the audience's ability to recall scenes from earlier films. And so, if you haven't seen the movie being spoofed, you will just have to wait for the next joke to arrive.
The villain Satish by his own admission, doesn't act in the film. It is the costume department that has been burdened with this character, whose look changes to represent a different mainstream villain every time he appears on the screen. His jokes too fall flat multiple times.
Iswarya Menon, who plays the heroine, has performed her role remarkably well. Her presence cannot be ignored on screen even when Shiva is the one with the funny lines. She swings from a smart working woman to a 'dumb girlfriend' with ease.
The screenplay could have definitely been tighter, with lesser songs and more pace. The lyrics were not as rib-tickling as the songs in the first Tamizh Padam and merely brought the movie to a halt unnaturally. But if this film was mocking actual cinema, can you blame if for dragging on?
The movie, in short, has shown Kollywood the mirror and the question is - Will the industry do anything to change its reflection?
Well, if it doesn't, at least there will be a Tamizh Padam 3 to look forward to.