What you mustn’t do when making a film
Thiruttu Rail must be made mandatory viewing at all film schools, only so the students know what they shouldn’t do when making a film. No, it’s not okay for the characters to occasionally sneak a peek at the camera. No, it’s not okay for most of the actors, including the protagonist Rakshan, to not know what to do with their hands during scenes. And no, it’s not okay that the lighting is so poor that even in broad daylight, you can’t quite see the faces of some characters. This is the sort of film anybody can make with their mobile phone, a few friends, some idle time and sadistic intentions.
The story is rather bizarre. The hero and his friends are forced to leave town urgently after a random TASMAC brawl with a policeman, who swears revenge against them. You’d think that the policeman would have some part to play in the remainder of the film, but you’d be wrong. The hero meets a girl, Meena (Kethi) during this journey and immediately falls in love with her. For a large part of the film, he stares at her in a dark, lecherous way, as if running in his mind the sinister things he’d like to do to her. Apparently, it’s his idea of flirting. A friend, about his staring, says: “Kannaala kathakali aadraan.”
Meanwhile, there’s the subplot about a politician who lusts after the wife of his loyal henchman Bhaskar (Charan Selvam) and decides to eliminate him. This, of course, has little to do with the original story, except that one of the hero’s friends is a look-alike of Bhaskar. No, not the hero, but one of his friends that you don’t really care about.
That the love angle is particularly abysmal says a lot, when the whole movie is quite excruciating to sit through. One scene in the beach has the girl saying, “Kadalai vaangi thaa.” The hero expresses the impossibility of getting her the sea, and as you look puzzled, like the girl does, you dimly realise that he was punning on kadal. Anybody who laughs at this joke must be immediately quarantined until whatever has caused them to find the joke funny is identified and surgically removed.
Rakshan, the hero, looks like an anonymous member of the crew blackmailed into filling in, to make up for the absence of the real hero. It isn’t just the acting; even in the song sequences, he simply stands, his hands in his pockets, as if waiting for the shot to get over and the horror to end. If one of our directors ever decides to make a zombie film, they need to look no further.
There isn’t one redeeming aspect in Thiruttu Rail. The songs are mediocre, the acting bad, the story disconnected, and the comedy unfunny. I was at the movie theatre because I had to review the film. I wasn’t sure why the six others in the theatre were doing this to themselves.