A perilous movie about the perils of social network


If you’re dark in complexion and you’re planning to watch Jigina , consider yourself warned. From beginning to end, its characters (mainly the protagonist Paavadai, played by Vijay Vasanth) are insulted for being dark. The preferred sobriquet is ‘blackie’. In one particularly crass moment, a woman (subtly called Karugamani) is called ‘ karuppi ’. The ‘message’ at the end about how even dark people can find happiness in love makes you wonder why it’s treated like such a handicap. It is even told that one of four reasons why Paavadai considers suicide is his colour.

For a film with such backward (or should I say, ‘blackward’) notions, Jigina ’s attempt is actually to tell a contemporary love story. And its idea of a contemporary love story is a virtual relationship over Facebook. There are a couple of problems here. One, it brings nothing revolutionarily new to the table; most of it was already explored in Kadhalar Dhinam that was released 16 years ago. Internet love is that old. Two, its understanding of Facebook is also rather minimal. I wish I were making this up, but I’m not: The film calls Facebook ‘ ponnungala pudikkara book’. It also explains that there is so much to understand about women’s reactions when on Facebook.

If a woman cries (they’re probably referring to a crying smiley), it’s because of her family, it says. If she doesn’t respond for too long, it’s probably because she’s with a neighbourhood hunk. These explanations make you want to blow your brains out. For some reason, Jigina also thinks it needs to familiarise its audience with the rules of Facebook. In one scene, a woman from an underprivileged section is shown reading a book called ‘Facebook A-Z’ to understand the website. I dare say that the makers of this film would be well-served by reading that book.

The film’s idea of a villain is a man who lures women through Facebook and seemingly has consensual, premarital sex with them. Oh, the evil of consensual sex! As though director Ravi Nanda Periyasaami realises his folly, he goes on to turn the villain into a caricature who is suddenly shown as some kind of social media psycho who can’t deal with his friend request not being accepted. He rages about it as though it were the most terrible thing to have ever happened in his life. Somebody needed to tap his shoulder and tell him that one of the first things to know about Facebook is that not everybody you send a friend request to need accept them, especially when you are a complete stranger/stalker adding random women.

And the dialogues… oh, the dialogues! There are way too many slow-mo shots of people throwing their heads back in laughter at terrible jokes. Jigina ’s idea of a pick-up line is the woman saying, “ Paal pongiruchu ” and Paavadai replying, “ Adhu unna madhiri soodaiduchu pola .” In a song that’s meant as an attempt to woo his girlfriend, he sings, “ Ponnunganaale 420 .” And the woman, after taking a second to understand the line, blushes in response!

But of course, good jokes and classy pick-up lines are too much to expect from a film whose hero’s biggest problem is that he looks like a karugina thiri while the girl he likes looks like a mezhuguvaththi . But one thing has got to be said for Jigina . When you’re walking out, you realise that there are worse things out there than unsolicited Candy Crush and Farmville invitations — like this film.

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