Review Tamil

Doctor review: Sivakarthikeyan shines in this pitch-black comedy

Release Date: 09 Oct 2021 / Rated: U / 02hr 28min

Cinestaan Rating

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Haricharan Pudipeddi

Even the most mundane scenes in the film are elevated by the director's quirky take on the clichés of the action genre.

The first thing that hits you as you walk out of Nelson Dilipkumar’s Doctor (2021) is how unlike any other Sivakarthikeyan movie it is. Making a refreshing departure from the colourful entertainers he is popular for, Sivakarthikeyan embraces a dark role  of an army doctor who goes after a human trafficking gang  with minimal dialogue. Nelson whips up a deliciously wicked dark comedy that works despite its predictable plot and twists. Even the most mundane scenes are elevated by the quirky treatment.

The plot is simple and way too familiar. Early on, Varun (Sivakarthikeyan) gets a call from his fiancée Padmini (Priyanka Arul Mohan), who has decided to call off the wedding as she finds him 'not hip enough'. When Varun and his folks visit her family to find out the exact reason for the rejection, they are told that he is uncaring and callous.

As the wedding is called off, news comes in that Padmini’s niece has gone missing from her school. The family suspects it is an abduction. Varun comes forward to help and decides to take the law into his hands when he realizes the police are not too serious about the case. Will he succeed in saving the girl by taking a human-trafficking gang head-on?

Doctor takes off slowly, and initially it feels a little odd to see Sivakarthikeyan deliver his lines like a robot. It feels like a very mechanical performance, but once you get used to his character, the film works like a charm. No other Tamil film, apart from Nelson’s own Kolamaavu Kokila (2018), has used dark comedy so effectively in recent years.

Nelson manages to evoke laughter in the most serious of situations and does so effortlessly. Most of the scenes would have fallen flat if they were not treated the way Nelson has done, with dark humour. There is a terrific action sequence inside a metro train and it’s one of the best parts of the first half. It’s inventive and whacky. It ends up as a memorable scene only because of Nelson’s treatment.

Despite a slightly predictable second half, Doctor stays afloat because of the way it uses humour to make every tired trope feel fresh. Yogi Babu, who is mostly seen these days in blink-and-you-miss kind of comic roles, gets extended screen time and he is terrific in his portion. With impeccable timing and deadpan delivery, he keeps the film alive in some of its boring stretches.

Rajiv and Raghu Ram play key characters and make for interesting casting choices. Vinay shines yet again as the sophisticated villain. Anirudh Ravichander’s music and score hold the film together whenever it dips.


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