'Danny' begins with policemen scouting vehicles in vain for a supposed horde of narcotics. Danny, the police dog is brought in with all the works: Slow-motion shots, heroic BGM... The policemen are not convinced: “Nammaalaye onnum kandupidikka mudila, indha naai kandupidikka pogudha?” One cop chips in, “Ei, adhu periya narcotics naai pa.” Someone else says, “Adhu enna ungala madhri khaki pottukitu kaasukku vela seiyaravan-a?” Unsurprisingly, Danny finds the drugs.
As I was wondering why these constables didn’t seem to know the basics of this police dog, we learn that these dogs get paid a salary and enjoy other perks. But, but... why then that punchline that suggested they don’t earn a salary? Even this early into the film, I heard Vadivelu in my head: “Shaba, ippove kanna kattudhe.” The film might be a whodunnit thriller: Kundhavai (Varalaxmi Sarathkumar) takes charge as Inspector for Thanjavur and takes over a murder investigation.
Another murder happens and she finds the killer, of course, with Danny’s help. The film takes extraordinary pains to establish Neelakandan’s fiancee (Neelakandan becomes Danny’s handler after his father Chidambaram passes away) only to have her vanish in a few scenes. Why did we need to know then that she is a karate exponent? Similarly, there are scenes that made me cringe, like one with a handler (curiously named Manda Kashayam) and a veterinarian, that have no utility to the story or the script. Unsurprisingly, these characters too vanish without a trace.
The more interesting trail in this film is for us, the audience, as we play ‘Find the missing characters’ with ourselves. By this time, the Vadivelu, in my head, was going, “Sodhikaatheenga da enna.” The writing is so lazy that dialogues contradict themselves all the time. Some other times, they seem to serve no purpose. If I haven’t given you enough, here is another example. Kundhavai lets go of an accused in remand due to insufficient evidence. His mom falls at the feet of Kundhavai and deems her to be a deity.
Kundhavai asks, “Why, because I said your son hasn’t done the murder?” The crying lady says no, but then says it over and over again in different words. In my head, I heard Vadivelu going, “Thirupi na andha thirupi illa.” The writing isn’t just lazy; it is also painfully abrupt and lacks any semblance of authenticity. Kundhavai’s sister Madhivadhani teaches at a school for blind children. In one of her classes, she begins by asking her students to recognise bird sounds and moves abruptly to vehicle sounds.
As you would expect, this comes to be of use in the investigation. Scenes are rudimentary, written just to serve as a means to an end, with no effort to make it coherent or interesting. For all the build-up Danny gets, the cute canine doesn’t get much screen space. But seeing how the film treats him, one wonders if the answer to solving all the crime in our State is just making sure more police dogs are brought in. Even at the end, when Kundavai faces off with the villain (who is the Spoilt Rich Drug Addict ™), she doesn’t land even a punch and needs Danny to ‘save’ her. Varalaxmi gives an earnest performance, but it is not enough to salvage this mediocre film. If I had to sum up my overall response to this film, I would take refuge in another Vadivelu line: “Vitta kirukkan aakiruvanga pola”.
Cast: Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Anita Sampath, Vinoth Kishen
Director: LC Santhanamoorthy
Streaming on: Zee 5