8 Thottakal: A Creatively Flawed Thriller Uplifted by Fascinating Characterizations
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Director Sri Ganesh’s debut directorial 8 Thottakal has its fair share of flaws. But the fact that these flaws are stitched together with fascinating characterizations and many good intentions help you look past the imperfections. Soon after you leave the film, a line of lingering thoughts present you with a window into the world of the characters from the film.
Sathya (Vetri) spends most of his childhood paying for a mistake that he doesn’t make. When he lands the job of a police officer, he gradually outgrows the unfortunate event. But, as luck would have it, his peaceful life takes a hazardous turn once again when he loses his gun, and that stolen gun immediately gets connected to a bank robbery and murder. What follows is his strenuous investigation that leads to the uncovering of a life-altering truth.
The first half is a delight to watch. It pulls you into the lives of intriguing characters and exposes their gray shades with such subtlety. Even though MS Bhaskar’s character, Krishnamoorthy, plays the villain, the screenplay makes you believe that he is a villain only due to unjust circumstances. Just like Krishnamoorthy, characters whose blurring lines of right and wrong packs enough mystery to immerse you into the conflict and investigation.
Flaws start presenting themselves more noticeably only once the second half of 8 Thottakkal unfolds. Amidst all the narrative tension, badly positioned songs with their amateur execution distract the audiences and break bits of the tension that the screenplay works so hard to build. Director Sri Ganesh’s screenplay is full of tactfulness but where the film falls short is on dull and prolonging dialogues. The slow-paced second half drags more than it should because of uninteresting and lengthy dialogues. The central characters would have made a deeper impact had the director refrained from the repetition of certain dialogues and emotions that tend to bring along a thread of melodrama.
8 Thottakkal resembles Neram in places where it tried to weave conflict surrounding its characters. But unlike 8 Thottakkal, Neram succeeds in threatening the central character’s stability, and it also manages to follow a uniformly spread out pace. Had these aspects been further enhanced, 8 Thottakkal would have left quite a mark.
Nevertheless, the film still provokes thought. A few uniquely treated scenes and the depth with which each character is built upon is almost enough to surpass the flaws in the second half. Some distinctive scenes involving an old man and his typewriter and a do-gooder who has lost his faith in humanity leave behind quite an impression on you.
As Sathya, Vetri does very little to bring credibility to his character. His stiffness and restricted expressions make it hard for you to take him seriously. Even though his underplay has been used to support his character, his monotonous expressions eventually become hard to stomach. Aparna Balamurali delivers a bland and shallow performance as Meera; she has to work on lending depth to her character’s emotive palette. MS Bhaskar and Nasser easily whisk away the limelight with their phenomenal portrayals. MS Bhaskar will leave you stunned by playing against type with so much conviction.
Without taking into account the below average songs, the sound design of 8 Thottakkal is interestingly done. The cinematography, on the other hand, has a lot of scope for improvisation. Some frames lacked focus, and the movement of the camera shows to be edgy in some sequences.
On the whole, 8 Thottakkal’s unconventional treatment and fascinating characterizations almost surpass its underlying flaws. If you are willing to look past a few slow-paced sequences in the second half, this film will prove to be memorable.