Director: M Anbazhagan
Cast: Chandran, Anandhi, Kishore Ravichandran, Chinni Jayanth, Harish Uthaman
Tamil cinema has for sometime now tried to borrow iconic villains from the West but has not been too successful. Take, for example, Naren, whose Joker impression in Mugamoodi garnered more winces than claps. In Rubaai, we get our own version of Anton Chigurh, one of the greatest villains Hollywood has produced this side of the millennium. Manisharma (Harish Uthaman) steals two crores worth of money and during this robbery, he is found out by the roving security guard.
After overpowering the guard, he then proceeds to strangle him and tries to do this as noiselessly as possible. But enter a distraction in the form of Kungumaraja (Chinni Jayanth) and the villain now has to take the Chigurh route with a powerdrill headshot.
The buildup to this particular scene is so meticulous that when it eventually unfolds, it feels very organic and plausible. You see, Kungumaraja may be auspicious in name, but always brings bad luck to everyone around him; so much so that the neighbourhood celebrates with fireworks when he leaves home. The man is also obstinate that loans not be returned and chastises his daughter, Ponni (Anandhi), for doing so. The lead characters, Bharani (Chandran) and Babu (Kishore Ravichandran), who have to pay off loan sharks. Everyone’s need for money is a recurring and important theme in the film.
Such a mix of oddball characters with similar ambitions requires sharp writing to keep the audience engaged, and for much of the movie, there is enough evidence to suggest that. But the songs and their needless placement really breaks the rhythm.
The lead pair is also rather underwhelming, as a result of which there is little emotional investment. That these portions serve as a function of moving the story forward isn’t in question though, and D Imman’s background score does help a lot. But the problem arises when you get distracted from the overall point of the film. Also, the sound editing is all over the place with a lot of supporting characters seemingly engaging in a shouting match.
Although the film falters towards the end, the director has to be commended for not being as overtly advisory about the message he wants to convey. There are clever subversions throughout this film, which rides on the shoulders of Chinni Jayanth and Harish Uthaman.
Perhaps with better lead actors and sharper dialogues, this film could have been a real paisa vasool. In its present form, it’s just all right.