Jagame Thandhiram Tamil Movie
Karthik Subbaraj's Jagame Thandhiram is a gangster drama that addresses weightier themes like the refugee crisis with gunmen's intelligence. The film revolves around gangsters, Dhanush's Suruli, James Cosmo's Peter, and Joju George's Sivadoss. Suruli is a no-nonsense thug from Madurai whose impulsive decisions often leave him in trouble with local gangs. He is the kind of goon who casually parks his car across the railway line, stops a train, boards it, kills someone inside, and casually comes out with a strut. But his impulses would eventually force Suruli to go away from local rivals to London, as Cosmo's gang lord character Peter hires him to whack a rival gang leader there.
London is going through a refugee crisis as its propagandists push for a bill that would require banishing the refugees from the city. The city's two main gang lords are fighting at the opposite sides of the refugee crisis, making Suruli wonder where to lean his loyalties. When he eventually makes his intentions clear, even those close to him question him.
Jagame Thandhiram is not your usual gangster drama as there is a lot more at stake here. Take the people who came to London without proper documentation, for instance. Suruli's longtime friend cum restaurant manager in London tells him that refugees like him do not have anything of their own. They are Tamil people who escaped the horrors of the Sri Lankan War, a Kannathil Muthamittal-like angle that Subbaraj merely exploits for thrills.
The main issue with the film is that it could not find a balance between handling weightier ideas and revelling in its carefree streaks. I would imagine that a gangster's worldview is so limited that his understanding of issues like the refugee crisis is also limited. So, it is not an issue when Jagame Thandhiram's leads take a gun-for-gun approach to the immigrant crisis rather than an altruistic approach. It is Subbaraj's way of saying that gangsters understand the language of guns and bullets more than the language of love and peace. This is an interesting idea on paper, but it does not quite soar as the film shows a slight disregard for the crisis and as the Subbaraj flourishes become a little too much.
That is not to say Jagame is a write-off. At its best, it serves up reasonably familiar material. The film is stylishly shot in real London locales, and it has two or three memorable performances. Dhanush may not have the film's best-written character, but the actor is in fine form here. Subbaraj even makes Dhanush imitate Rajnikanth to reasonably satisfying effects. I am a fan of Joju George; even though Sivadoss is a sketchy character, George plays it with panache. Aishwarya Lekshmi struggles with her Tamil dialogue delivery in some places, but she is convincing as Suruli's love interest. But the scene-stealer here is James Cosmo, the actor from such classics as Braveheart.
Subbaraj told Film Companion that he wished to cast Robert De Niro or Al Pacino as Peter, but his casting of Cosmo itself sets a new standard for South Indian cinema. Cosmo sounds, looks and talks every bit the xenophobic Brit he plays here. And, it is not like he does not have a personality. In one of the film's best moments, he puts another character at gunpoint and makes a threat with gross irreverence to Lord Ganesh. Now, that is more like it.