Director: Rajesh M Selva
Cast: Kamal Haasan, Prakash Raj, Trisha, Asha Sarath
Thoongaavanam is an absolute slick crime adventure that has two marvellous stars, Kamal Haasan and Prakash Raj, pitted against each other in a cat-and-mouse game -- which unfolds mostly within the noisy smoke-filled, bathed in liquor environs of a nightclub. Can there be a better setting for a cocaine-deal gone awry with Haasan playing an undercover cop, Diwakar, out to trap fellow policemen who are hand-in-glove with the drug lord, Prakash Raj’s Vittal Rao -- desperate to lay his hands on a missing bag of drugs.
The bag is with Diwakar in a film that has been inspired by a French work, Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night), and he finds himself truly cornered when Rao kidnap’s the cop’s young school-going son. Give me the white powder and take your son back, Rao laughs over the telephone, Prakash Raj’s hallmark trait. Diwakar walks into the nightclub, brimming with young fun seekers, and in the noise and din of it all, he manages to lose the bag -- the key to his son’s freedom.
Stalked by Rao inside the labyrinth of a club, as well as two other police officers -- one of them Mallika (played by Trisha, who seems too frail for the role of a tough cop) -- Diwakar sees the minutes tick up as he plans his moves during a sleepless night in what is virtually a forest of vice.
Mounted with marvellous finesse and edited with breathtaking pace, the movie in just over two hours keeps us mesmerised by its gun fights and kicking sprees which play out -- some of them inside the club’s kitchen, lending a wee bit to hilarity.
There is also a dash of emotion in all this mayhem. There are touching scenes between Diwakar and his son. You are the most important person in my life, Diwakar tells the boy. But you never told me that before, he looks half surprised, half happy.
This is certainly one of Haasan’s better films in recent months (the other being Papanasam), but, yes, Kamal needs to make a greater attempt to sink into a character, something he was adept at in his earlier days. I would say the same for Prakash Raj, but he is, of course, capable of surprising us with a performance like the one we saw in Mani Ratnam’s O Kadhal Kanmani -- where he was the caring husband of a woman, down with dementia.
A last word, Thoongaavanam is eminently watchable, even if that means keeping awake for a late night show.