Remember Denzel Washington in “Unstoppable”? If that Denzel watched “Thodari”, he’d probably kick himself for not having had as much of a party on top of the misbehaving train as Dhanush does in the Tamil ‘tribute’.
Despite Prabhu Solomon’s 'inspiration', “Unstoppable” and “Thodari” are bewilderingly different films. While the 2010 Hollywood flick was an edge-of-seat thriller, “Thodari” is more interested in being a comedy with a slightly dated I’ll-die-for-you romance thrown in. The monster train screeching through the tracks is a sidekick for the ancient ‘love in three seconds’ story.
Dhanush plays Poochiappan, a pantry boy who is in the habit of falling in love with female passengers on the train. But this time around, he knows it’s for real. How? Why? Who cares.
The girl in question is Saroja, who is remarkably naive. Although Keerthy Suresh gets on your nerves in the beginning with the forced innocence and mandatory cuddly puppy, she grows on you as the film progresses. At least, her naivette is not confused with sophistication and there’s enough for her to do in the film to make her likable.
Since a mere train can’t be an adequate villain for a Kollywood hero to showcase his masculinity, we have a host of evil people, including a strange Malayali commando with a psychiatric disorder to boot. And oh, there’s a bunch of robbers, too. Thankfully, Prabhu Solomon stopped short of including an item number inspired by “Chaiyya Chaiyya”.
Thambi Ramaiah’s cringe-worthy comedy notwithstanding, “Thodari” has its entertaining moments. Radha Ravi as Rangarajan, a seasoned politician with a dry sense of humour, gives us a few of these with his ironical comments and observations.
Tamil cinema is fond of parodying the media and “Thodari” follows suit. The media circus around the unstoppable train and its passengers, especially the starry-eyed lovers, is portrayed with hilarity and works because of the capable actors who shoulder these scenes. It’s in these light-hearted sequences that the film stays alive and comes into the sun briefly.
The graphics are embarrassing and do nothing to encourage you to suspend your disbelief. Though the characters are in impending danger, “Thodari” is about as nerve-wracking as watching a “Tom & Jerry” cartoon. The numerous “Indianisations” ultimately kill the film even as Dhanush tries to hold it up bravely. “Thodari” is “Unstoppable” smeared with a generous coat of Aachi masala and while it is enjoyable in parts, it fails as a dish.