I wonder if directors in Tamil cinema have a new ‘social issues’ checklist in making their films. The horror-comedy bubble seems to have burst, and now, we are getting a new wave of films with political/social commentary. It isn’t that these unearth new issues or problems. They merely serve to recall real-life references that have already been garnished and served.
Farmer’s issues, check; NEET, check; corruption, check; social media influence, check. Director Kannan’s 'Boomerang' joins a long list of recent films including Kanaa, Sarkar, NOTA, LKG, and even Kanne Kalaimaane. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not against films tackling social issues, but when every other film references the same topics without adding much, surely, saturation isn’t too far away.
Siva (Atharvaa) faces severe burn injuries after he gets caught in a fire. A face transplant is done and he gets a new lease of life. Suddenly, he is good-looking, and people find him charming. But there’s also a case of mistaken identity. Will everyone buy his explanation though? Gopal (the ever-dependable Sathish) decides to check it on the ‘B and C audience’ aka ‘Naan Kadavul’ Rajendaran, an old-school producer.
It almost feels meta. Is social/political commentary the new ‘formula’ (similar to how we had action, family sentiment, a dance number) to reach all centres? After all, it seems to transcend the ambiguous ‘centre’ division. But Boomerang bites more than it can chew. The film talks about de-linking rivers but does it give an accurate picture of what it entails? No. There is a plan, a presentation, that the youngsters bandy about, but do we get to see what’s in it? No. It is all just a bunch of well-intended, fiery monologues.
Boomerang, as the name suggests, is about how ‘what goes around comes around.’ This idea is, again, stretched too much, to the point of contrivance. Shiva is ridiculed by his crush Jiji (Megha Akash) who later falls for him after he gets a face transplant — because he’s now ‘cute’. This is the treatment our women characters get, and it irks that we still can’t look beyond looks to write a love sequence, no matter how brief. Juxtapose this with, say, for example, the flavoursome Malayalam film, Kumbalangi Nights, which finds love and beauty in the ordinary.
However, to Kannan’s credit, all the characters are necessary. Jiji, Maya (Indhuja), Gopal and Shanmugam (RJ Balaji), are all there for a cause — but their characters are superficial. We don’t even get a clear sense of who Shiva is. The writing is simply underwhelming. Sathish and Balaji though make the most of what they get. Despite being bagged with a template character who hits on every girl he sees, Sathish gets a few clever one-liners. And Balaji is almost treated on par with Atharvaa during their portions, a refreshing change from how our supporting actors are usually treated.
In an interview, director Kannan revealed that the film was initially supposed to be titled Alangaram. The script, he says, went through 12 drafts, and at the end, they fixed on the title, Boomerang. Walking out of Boomerang, I wonder how it would have been had they just stuck to Alangaram. Could we have got a taut, clean thriller that sticks to focussing on mistaken identity? Could it have avoided failed packaging in an attempt to reach all audiences?
Director: R Kannan
Cast: Atharvaa Murali, Megha Akash, Indhuja