Sardar Tamil Movie
Bond films have set the gold standard for the "spy genre". Essential ingredients for this genre include but are not limited to a sinister villain with a more sinister mission that eventually destroys the world, non-stop action, deception, gadgets, twists, and some emotional dramas as needed. Tamil films have adapted these from the days of 'Jaishankar' movies up until now. The recent 'Sardar' is the latest to join the bandwagon. It goes on to have the dialogue, "Once a spy, always a spy.".
The movie talks about a pertinent issue - the drinking water crisis that engulfs India, and the mafia surrounding it. The film kicks off in 1983 with a spy agent killing an Indian high command official. Cut to present-day Chennai, we are introduced to Vijaya Prakash (Karthi), a cop seeking publicity in whatever he does. He gets entwined into the water mafia and politics surrounding the same. While he uncovers the mysterious death of an activist, Sameera (Laila), he discovers more about himself and Sardar (Karthi). What does Sardar do about the ongoing crisis?
This movie has the trademark "masala" signatures written all over it. Director PS Mithran, known for his writing on sensational social issues, has taken quite some liberty with the screenplay. There were major flaws in the narrative. Almost everything in the story happens by chance. Laila, who is an activist seeking justice for her son's ill health by exposing the water mafia, gets access to sensitive documents. How did she do that?
The mystery surrounding "code red" and Sardar's re-entry upon seeing a red cover, the portrayal of a Bangladeshi prison with Tamil-speaking inmates and officers was an unpardonable piece of work, and the list goes on. Yet, the movie held its nerve with a superlative performance by Karthi in a dual role.
Karthi, the actor, is in fine form. He has the knack for "owning" a role with his charmful and natural body language, expressions, and dialog delivery. Though the screenplay traverses north to south, the actor remains rooted and makes those lines believable. The action sequences were well choreographed, but there was an overdose of action in the second half. Towards the climax, it became almost unbearable.
The villain, as expected, is a North Indian who dons a shade and an engineered voice with dubbed Tamil dialogues and a wavered modulation. His job was primarily to glorify Sardar by fearing him and his eclectic presence. In the flashback portions for Sardar, the character was interesting. However, it went a little too long. Rajisha Vijayan has become too plump, and her height was an eyesore.
This story might have appealed to an actor like Viajayakanth in the 90s. In the current day, where audiences have crawled out from the woodwork of hero worship and who can appreciate intelligence in the screenplay, this might fail to impress. Music was also pretty ordinary from GV Prakash. The supporting cast was weak. Munishkanth had a usual role and Rashi's role was heavily stifled by writing. Also, the roles of Yugi Sethu and Avinash were stunted.
Director PS Mithran has got a very pertinent subject at hand. He failed to spin a convincing spy drama with it. Instead, he chose to ride it safely with a proven stale masala that pretends to keep the screenplay on the boil. In the end, the outcome was unconvincing. One can only contend with Karthi's performance and some flashes of brilliance. Overall, it was an ordinary effort!