Let me start off by declaring that I haven’t watched Special 26, the Akshay Kumar starrer which has been remade into Vignesh Shivan’s latest film Thaanaa Serndha Koottam (TSK). So, this review is not coloured by comparisons to the Hindi blockbuster.
TSK is a bold heist movie, a concept that has not often been brought to the big screen in Tamil cinema. For Suriya, who plays the hero, this movie comes after several poorly received films. So, to say that it was refreshing to see him comfortable in the role of a young man disillusioned by systemic corruption, is an understatement.
The movie is set in 1987 and Suriya plays the role of an educated man who wishes to join the CBI. He wants to conduct raids and expose corrupt politicians, businessmen, and clean up the system. But Uthaman, a corrupt CBI officer played by Suresh Menon, acts as a hurdle to this dream and further insults Suriya for having lofty aspirations when he is just the son of a clerk.
The hero, who is from a humble background, sees that his friends too are unable to join various government departments due to their lack of resources to pay officials bribes. Enraged by this, he brings together a group of con artists who decide to perform raids by pretending to be CBI and Income Tax (IT) officials.
This is where the fun begins.
The sequence where the ‘officials’ led by Ramya Krishnan raid a minister’s house is effortlessly funny. Comedians, including Senthil and Sathyan, add to the hilarity with their timing. Ramya Krishnan shines in the role given to her and the director allows the audience a peek into her character’s life, explaining the reason she took up the con job.
The other actors, however, provide little or no reason for their need to cheat people for a living.
Suriya, who is not new to playing the role of a government authority, is convincing and at his stoic best. The movie shifts from Chennai to rural Tamil Nadu and even Hyderabad as the actual CBI begin to tail the con group. Yesteryear actor Karthik plays an upright official roped in to catch the gang and it is a match of wit against wit.
The climax of the film provides a line of thought that remains problematic in terms of solving the inherent corruption in the system. Clues are given through the movie about the hero’s solution to the problem, but I can’t help but think that it would only lead to further disaster.
While Anirudh Ravichander’s background music adds the much required flavour to the film, the sheer number of songs in the first half is a put off. It slows down a screenplay that could have kept you at the edge of your seat to the occasional raising of an eyebrow. The time spent making the characters dance would have been put to better use if their histories and reasons for choosing such a path was explained. You can’t really empathise with anyone but Suriya throughout the film.
A special mention must be given to the art direction. Karaikal and Pollachi have both been picturised beautifully, and it looks like a constant carnival. Effort has been made to ensure the vehicles, buildings and electronics shown in the film represent the 80s. The fight sequences have also been choreographed very carefully.
And yes, there is a heroine (Keerthi Suresh) but perhaps the film would have been much racier without yet another distraction from the actual plot.
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.