Thappu Thanda Synopsis:
A politician sends a bagful of money with his driver intending to distribute it to the people of his constituency in exchange for their votes. A few individuals plot to steal the money. What happens next?
Thappu Thanda Review:
When Thappu Thanda begins, we see Karna (Mime Gopi), a politician order his henchman Kaaliya (Aathma) to kill three men. The film then cuts to a few months earlier, and we are introduced to Vetri (Sathyamurthi), a seemingly naive young man who has come to Chennai hoping that his friend Ravi, who works as Karna's driver, will help him land a job.
However, Ravi schools him to be cunning in the big, bad city, and send him to Guru (John Vijay), who 'coaches' wannabe criminals. When Vetri learns that Ravi is going to be Karna's conduit to transfer Rs 5 crore, which he plans to disburse among the voters in his constituency, he plots with Guru to steal the money. However, Miller, a crooked cop, conspiring with Karna's aide Thyagu (E Ramdas), is also after the money.
Thappu Thanda is solidly-made for a debut film, and Srikantan narrates his story with confidence. He takes time to establish the characters and motivations, and provides a twist at the half-way mark, which keeps the plot interesting. In the second half, even though we can predict who has actually walked off with the money, he keeps us guessing by throwing in the prospect of look-alikes, plastic surgery and double games.
What the film lacks is chutzpah in the filmmaking to dazzle us. There is a matter-of-factness here, which robs the film of excitement. Unlike Mankatha or Soodhu Kavvum, which were also in the same genre, the film lacks a lead we can root for. This makes us, the audience, impassive observers, so we never feel the thrill of watching a cleverly planned heist. The casting also feels predictable — almost every other actor is typecast in roles that we associate with them (how many more films are we going to get with Mime Gopi as a politician, or John Vijay as a funny criminal or Ajay Ghosh as a cruel cop?) — and this makes the film less novel. Perhaps if the film had come out a few years earlier, we would have responded to it with much more enthusiasm.