If you’ve always wondered what a Mysskin film might feel like without the sometimes very disturbing violence, Savarakathi is definitely the film for you.
Though he wrote this film, Mysskin hands over the directorial reins to his brother GR Adithyaa and steps in front of the camera himself as one of lead characters. The result is a surprisingly funny, though not perfect, comedy.
Savarakathi is all about fragile masculinities, where an accidental blow to a gangster can result in a long-drawn chase for revenge. Where a bravado-filled barber nearly signs his own death warrant by shooting his mouth off. And a policeman gets stunned into emasculated silence when one half of his moustache is abruptly shaved off.
Ram plays Pitchaimoorthy, the smooth-talking barber who lies through his teeth to get his way, but finds his long tongue can also land him in far more trouble than he can handle. When he accidentally lands a blow on hot-headed Manga (Mysskin), a gangster on his last day of parole before a long stint in prison, the latter is determined to avenge the insult. What follows is a hilarious day-long chase, that also runs into another plotline involving Pitchai’s wife’s disabled brother eloping with a powerful man’s daughter.
All of this could serve as ingredients for a typical Mysskin action thriller, if not for the fact that the film is determined to serve up an over-the-top laughter-filled ride. Sure, there are more than a few jokes that hit literally below the belt. One continuing comedy sequence, for instance, involves a henchman who gets bitten in the (cough cough) inner thigh by a man he’s trying to terrorise, and then spends the rest of the movie in excruciating pain.
But there are more than a few great comic high points to the film too. Like the scene where Pitchai is hiding in a garbage bin, and a nonplussed ragpicker picks up the plastic around him. After a moment of shock, Pitchai sheepishly gathers up the plastic and hands it over, before settling back into the bin.
Or the scene where the gangsters show a rare moment of humanity trying to save the life of Pitchai’s desperately pregnant and hearing-impaired wife Subathra, only to find she has conned her way into a clever escape.
There are also some clever plotting tricks that ensure the film doesn’t follow a predictable path. At precisely the moment where another film might rush breathlessly to the climax, for instance, Savarakathi goes into a song montage to play down the comic tone and take a breath before getting to its slightly sentimental and a tad too preachy end.
Pitchai’s is the only character that gets layers of depth, as he strives to the end to remain a hero to his kids. But within the bounds of their one-dimensional characters, others in the cast deliver a strong punch too, especially Mysskin and Poorna.
The film is not without its rough edges. Its treatment of disability or mental illness, for instance, leaves a lot to be desired. And some turns in the humour are simply not required.
Savarakathi may not rank as a comic classic. But it has enough going for it to merit at least one watch.
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.