Cast: Vijay, Samantha, Amy Jackson, Radhika Sarathkumar, Mahendran, Baby Nainika
When I walk into a Vijay film, I know exactly what I would be pounded with--cyclonic action, humungous heroism, nobility and syrupy romance. Vijay’s latest Robin Hood adventure, Theri, has all of these ingredients to make the movie into a masala that Indian cinema terms entertainment. In the first hour of the film’s run time of 158 minutes, I counted five songs and dances -- one of them with Vijay (playing Indian Police Service Officer, Vijay Kumar) and his lady love, Mithra (a Bengali name that Samantha sports), dressed in Arabian costumes! Here’s a curious case of imagination running wilder than the movie’s make-believe creation.
When Vijay is not swaying to the beat of the drums and the hum of the musical notes, he plays Mr Noble in Khaki, bumping off a powerful minister’s (Mahendran in his debut role, and what a fine piece of acting from a man who once directed classics like Uthiripookal and Nenjathai Killathey) son, because he molested and murdered a young Information Technology professional.
A shaken and shattered minister vows revenge which, as he says in his viciously terrifying voice, will be worse than death. Yes, death to Vijay’s wife -- Mithra had by then married the cop -- and his fun-loving mother, portrayed in her characteristic style by Radhika Sarathakumar. The couple’s daughter survives the bloody onslaught in a kind of incident that reminded me of Sholay and Gabbar Singh’s evil demolition of a happy family.
Watch Theri trailer here:
All this in Theri comes to us in a sequence of flashbacks, and the Tamil work’s opening shots are in Kerala, where Vijay in an assumed identity as Jacob Kuruvilla is playing papa, papa to his little daughter, Nivi (Baby Nainika, a brat whose smartness goes beyond cinematic liberty).
And Nivi’s teacher is Annie (Amy Jackson, in her usual wooden avatar, looking positively uncomfortable lisping Malayalam) who flips for Jacob and lets her inquisitiveness get the better of her. She finds out about Jacob’s past, but director Atlee keeps an important part of the man’s mysterious life for the final frame.
Beyond this, there is little novelty in a plot that only appears rehashed (probably for the nth time) with some annoying and ethically questionable police methodology. In this day and age, are we to go home after watching Theri where all that Vijay Kumar does is virtuous? Given the kind of fan craze one saw at the opening of the movie cinema must introspect on the kind of social message it spreads.
However, to be fair to Atlee and his Theri, I must say that he got Vijay into a rare emotional mould. The star actually cries a great deal more than he usually does. He has always had this tendency to mask his feelings with a cold, unexpressive face. This time, Vijay seemed delightfully human, essaying a very different kind of policeman, whose heart beats could be seen on his face.