If the South entertainment space in 2020 saw Soorarai Potru landing on Amazon Prime Video, now, in mid-2021, we have Jagame Thanthiram releasing this week on Netflix.
Expectations for the film are sky-high and the fan furore online is evident from the zillion ‘JT sessions’ on Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces.
If you see it a certain way, a star-studded ‘big film’ releasing directly on OTT primarily benefits the producer, and it’s a good thing. The creative team, however, is robbed of experiencing the ‘high’ of relishing the ‘collective feeling’ of cheer or pathos, along with the audience. I hope the Covid situation improves, and with vaccinations for all, we can hopefully move ahead with a semblance of ‘normalcy’ like in places like Europe and America.
Any auteur’s work is stamped with an individuality unique to them, and Karthik Subbaraj is certainly one such unique voice. His writing forms the backbone of his filmmaking, and this makes each moment of our time spent on watching his scenes, quite memorable. Though I have seen Jigarthanda and Iraivi only once, I can recall the brilliant stretches in both films with precision. Credit for this rests fully with Karthik, who shows a certain ‘swag’ in his writing.
Many filmmakers have written ‘women-oriented scripts’ earlier, but it took Karthik Subbaraj to word it thus in SJ Suryah’s dialogue in Iraivi’s climax: “Aaann, nedil ezhuthu… perusaa sollanum… penn, kuril ezhuthu… chinnadhaa sonnaa podhum.” This, of course, means that even by the way we utter the word ‘aan’, a certain importance is attributed, while the word for woman in Tamil—‘penn’—takes a shorter time to say it, and is symbolic of how a woman is made to feel ‘small’ by our society.
When a writer pens down his social commentary, it often makes for a deeply impactful film. That’s why we tend to take Vetrimaaran, Thiagarajan Kumararaja and Karthik Subburaj as filmmakers whose stories also reflect our realities and problems. Their films stay on in memory as an example of good filmmaking and good cinema, and not for being a mere ‘message movie’.
The trailer of Jagame Thanthiram has enough applause-worthy moments and crackles with visuals of new locales (London), good score (Santhosh Narayanan), slick action and a powerful Dhanush, whose career graph is at an all-time high now. I’m sure the film will have packed in more for us for a theatre experience, but I’m not complaining about watching it on my TV screen as soon as possible. The beauty of Karthik Subbaraj’s films lies in the way he plants the larger-than-life elements, along with personal emotions for the hero/heroine. Pettai is an example of such a combination, and it is perhaps the best commercial and heroic outing Rajinikanth has got in recent times.
Karthik Subbaraj has said that it was intentional to have Dhanush, with his performance in Jagame Thanthiram, hark back to the Rajinikanth we so love. If so, then, he might have a ‘superstar hit’ on his hands already.
The writer is a content producer and an art curator