Outdated and obscene
Everything about Thunai Mudhalvar — its plot, setting, pace and depiction of women — is dated. So long as you’re in the theatre watching the film, you can actually engage in an interesting thought experiment by pretending you’re in the 80s. This datedness is never more obvious than during a scene when a politician attempts to woo voters by showing a titillating film; his choice of actress — Shakila. Sunny Leone should be pretty offended. But the sleaze… oh, the sleaze. There’re scenes so sleazy that they belong squarely in the domain of X-rated websites. Thunai Mudhalvar ’s greatest achievement is that it has somehow circumvented the censor board’s regulations to get a U certification.
The plot, however, is pretty interesting. You have Periya Paandi (Bhagyaraj) who wins as an independent candidate in his constituency, and on whose choice the fate of the government depends, as the two major parties end up with the same number of seats. But the storyline is treated with almost laughable seriousness, and when coupled with substandard acting and Tamil television soap-like production values, the story just doesn’t matter. You have the occasional decent joke — the one where Chinna Paandi (Jayaram) gets scared by a politician’s gun and tries to walk out on Periya Paandi is quite funny — but as the cliché goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
What a fall from grace for actress Sandhya, who dances to lines like Kaasu Veesina, Un TASMAC da. She plays Chinna Paandi’s girlfriend, an inconsistent character, who has a problem with politicians distributing alcohol for votes, but not with Periya Paandi’s wife performing a raunchy dance for the same purpose. In fact, she even joins in the revelry. Shweta Menon, meanwhile, plays Periya Paandi’s wife. The only reason she is characterised as a Malayali seems to be to show her in a blouse and mundu , and have her husband make advances to her with malligappu and alvaa .
I’ll stop here. Any more analysis is only wasted on a film whose disclaimer has the word smoking spelt ‘smokeing’.