Thondan: An Unbearably Long Lecture on Moral Correctness
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Movies can be utilised as vehicles to deliver strong social messages. But director Samuthirakani’s Thondan is a two and half hour moral lecture that comes disguised as a motion picture. There is no pressing story nor is there a strong screenplay structure, instead, the film is overstuffed with life lessons made unbearable by an over-the-top preachy approach.
Vishnu (Samuthirakani) is a sincere ambulance driver who has been responsible for saving 1632 lives so far. When he is not busy on yet another rescue mission, he is preaching Gandhian ideologies to people who ought to be model citizens just like him. Thondan traces Vishnu’s strong ideologies and principles. It goes on to demonstrate that even when he is pitted against all odds, he sticks to his principles on non-violence, anti-corruption and healing with love.
As a package, Thondan requires a lot of refinement. The ideology behind making such a thought-provoking film isn’t wrong. The problem arises only in the manner you choose to tell a message. Directors like Shankar and Mani Ratnam have made films of social relevance too. They make an impact because they package these messages in a story with a lot of potential. If Samuthirakani had packaged a single message in a solid story, it would’ve been more inspirational than this never-ending lecture.
There is such an apparent lack of clarity from the director’s side. When you decide to make a film with a strong moral message, you have to pick your battles. Stuffing a film with every possible social scenario should be held accountable for the writer’s laziness. For instance, after watching Kaakka Muttai, you think twice before saying “Clothes make a man”. The reason for this is the thought-provoking manner in which the film packaged its protest against discrimination. Ideally, the plethora of moral messages that were a part of Thondan should have been used as single elements in multiple films. From Jallikattu to rape, all these issues should’ve been part of different films instead of over-stuffing them into one story.
Ten minutes into the Thondan, you realize it could’ve used some good comic relief. Even though the film attempts to make you laugh, the jokes too have an overtly preachy undertone.
The film’s dull and old-fashioned love track is proof that romance is definitely not Samuthirakani’s strong suit. The love stories of characters being old fashioned is not the problem; the amateurism is what makes it really problematic. The way in which it is portrayed makes it look like the love story of pre-teens. It lacks real depth and to be honest, its presence itself feels out of place.
All characters in Thondan are two dimensional. They are all either good or bad; no one is really given a chance to bear shades of grey. They are all either versions of Vishnu or they’re bad. Maybe this is why no actor in the film’s cast has delivered a noticeable performance. None of them are given a real chance to perform as their characters lack a viable background and depth. Their change from bad to good is also too immediate to be actual and organic.
The music and dance sequences are horrible. The theme music sounds like a rip-off and the songs are just terrible. The dance sequences in these songs are equally terrible due to the horrendous choreography.
On the whole, Thondan is a disorganized, preachy, two and a half hour lecture on moral correctness. The absence of a significant story and the lack of three dimensional characters makes this quite a dull affair.