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Times of India
A mafia don sends his son out of the country because he doesn't want even a shadow of his life falling on him. Destiny wills otherwise. The son makes an innocuous trip to Mumbai to visit his dad. And ends up filling his father's large shoes.
Mumbai 1988. The slums of Dharavi see an uprising as their old leader is killed and his rival is about to take over. Enter Sathyaraj (Ramadurai) who is the messiah of the Tamils who reside in Mumbai. He vows to protect his ilk; he picks up a knife to murder the 'bad' guy.
Mumbai 2013. Quite like Mani Ratnam's
where Kamal Haasan essayed a role similar to this, Sathyaraj goes about life in an identical fashion. He's your grey-haired Don Corleone, punishing those whom the law fails to provide justice to.
In the meantime, his only son Vijay (Vishwa) is growing up in Sydney, away from his father's Godfather-style life. He dances and romances like a carefree boy. Till his lady love, Amala Paul (Meera) and her father ask him to accompany them to Mumbai to discuss his marriage. What should ideally have been a happy trip turns into a gruelling one because of a twist in the plot. The suspense is well-guarded.
At this juncture, circumstances force Vijay to choose a life of grime and crime. By default he ends up becoming the Thalaivaa (leader). Like his father, he too is forced to pick up the knife and sully his hands.
Thalaivaa is inspired by
. Thoughtfully the director thanks makers like Mani Ratnam and Ram Gopal Varma at the start. This film is a good attempt to rehash the mafia tales of yore. And Mumbai has been used more effectively here than in most Bollywood movies. However, it's failing is the length. At three hours and two minutes, the movie tests your patience.
Vijay is in top form when he's normal and menacing. Sathyaraj as the don is effective. But the one who makes this arduous journey enjoyable is Santhanam, whose poker-faced humour provides relief in a largely grim story.