'Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu' review: STR leads must-watch gangster saga
Director Gautham Vasudev Menon (GVM) entered a new league with Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu (VTK) led by Silambarasan TR (STR). In this gangster saga, there are no modern-urban families, no over-the-top romance, and most importantly: no one speaks English. And this film has turned out to be a near-perfect come-back for the director after a streak of movies that failed to work out. We review.
VTK starts with its leading man, Muthuveeran, trying to save himself from fire and falling on a thorny fence thereby hurting himself. This sets the tone of the whole film. VTK is the story of a man, who keeps falling into complex situations while trying to escape from one. What happens when he decides to stand up for himself: he becomes a dreaded gangster.
The first half leisurely establishes the character of the leading man. In fact, the actual film does not start until the pre-interval block. In the beginning, you get a feel like VTK is another Tamil gangster movie with a hero who migrates to Mumbai and later becomes a gangster. But GVM's direction and characterization make the film gripping, with a certain edge and novelty.
The director fantastically recreates what a small-time hotel in Mumbai that works as an undercover place for murders would look like. In fact, he first familiarizes you with the Issakki Parotta Kadai (hotel) through minute nuances, so much so that you would even know where the windows and doors are. The film grows on you instantly by first making you connect with the location.
Muthuveeran slowly learns about the actual functionalities of the hotel and tries not to get involved in its criminal activities. But he gets sucked into the cesspool of crime and gang wars and he has to kill. It changes his outlook on life. VTK ends with the rise of Muthu as the new godfather, and his saga is likely to continue in Part 2.
The film pays tribute to Kamal Haasan's yesteryear film Nayakan (1987) by adding his photo after Muthu takes over as the gangster lord of North India. Though it's a quick moment, it takes the film to a different level altogether! Nice touch, GVM!
VTK belongs to STR who is brilliant as Muthu- his characterization is well etched by GVM. There are mass moments, but at the same time, the character is believable. The only tiring part is the romantic track. Siddhi Idnani looks beautiful on-screen and her chemistry with STR is top-notch. But the romantic elements are draggy and sadly fail to work out.
AR Rahman's background music and Siddhartha Nuni's camera work add slickness. On the downside, there is no consistency in the time frame. One moment, you see the characters making video calls, and the next moment you see them sending money orders and letters by post. They also watch Rajinikanth's Chandramukhi (2005) in a theater. Verdict: VTK is a must-watch. We're going with 3.5/5 stars.