Chennai, 10 Mar 2022 14:42 IST
Pandiraj’s film is a formulaic entertainer that shines the spotlight on the infamous Pollachi sexual-assault case and delivers a strong message. However, it could have shown some sensitivity in treating the subject.
Suriya, whose previous two films as actor were released directly on Amazon Prime Video, makes a strong comeback to commercial cinema space with his latest outing, Etharkkum Thunindhavan (2022), which takes the star back to his glory days when he made a strong impact with films like Ayan (2009) and Singam (2010).
Pandiraj’s film is a formulaic entertainer that throws the spotlight on the infamous Pollachi sexual-assault case and delivers a strong message. However, what the film lacks is sensitivity in how it treats the subject, which needed better writing.
Suriya plays Kannabiran, doting son to his parents, law-abiding citizen, fearless lawyer and, above all, brother to a lot of women in his village. Kannabiran is the go-to guy for any problem in the village. None can deal with a situation the way he does.
All’s well in Kannabiran’s life until trouble comes in the form of Inba (Vinay Rai), a corrupt businessman who preys on young women and exploits them for his own need. When some women find themselves caught in a sexual-assault racket, they seek Kannabiran’s help.
Based on the real-life Pollachi sexual-assault case, Suriya’s Etharkkum Thunindhavan is a well-intentioned tale and gets a lot of things right by the standards of commercial cinema. However, it misses out on being more sensible in handling the subject of sexual assault. Besides, it is overly emotional. For a film that talks about how we treat women and their safety, it could have avoided having Vinay Rai’s character glorifying sexual assault like some achievement.
At the same time, the film talks about how victims of sexual assault should bravely come forward and speak up, which is strongly conveyed through a crucial scene featuring Priyanka Arul Mohan. Therefore, it is not that the entire film is problematic, but it could definitely have done better in handling such a sensitive subject.
From a life-saving lawyer in Jai Bhim (2021) to an avenging hero in Etharkkum Thunindhavan; Suriya proves once again that there isn’t a role in which he can’t shine. It is refreshing to see him as a dhoti-clad hero against a rural backdrop after many years and he effortlessly pulls off the character of Kannabiran.
Vinay Rai is starting to get repetitive in roles that only require him to look good and mouth dialogues that are written just for the sake of it. His will go down as one of the more problematic characters of the year in Tamil cinema.
Suriya holds the film together with a strong performance. If Jai Bhim (2021) saw Suriya deliver a restrained performance, he goes all out in Etharkkum Thunindhavan to pander to the masses.
Etharkkum Thunindhavan was released in cinemas on 10 March.
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