Synopsis: An underling of a gangster decides to turn over a new leaf, but will his violent past let him do so?
Review: Even if Thirunaal, which has been lying in the cans for some time, been released on time, it would have felt like a film that is 10 years too late. In fact, much of the film references that we find in this film is from 2005 or earlier. There is the hero, Blade, who calls himself an MR Radha fan, and has the great villain actor's name tattooed on his arm. The heroine's grandmother is a fan of SJ Suryah. She is introduced singing Sakkara Inikkira Sakkara, and repeatedly shown watching songs from the actor-director's films. Even the film's designated comedian, Ramadas is shown singing Shakalaka Baby. But these are all superficial, unlike the film's script, which is so old-fashioned and in obeisance to a movie-making formula (a kuthu song for the hero, a yearning song for the heroine, an item song and so on) that has now become stale.
The story revolves around Blade (Jiiva) who is a devoted underling to Naga (Sharath Lohitashwa), a gangster in Kumbakonam. Naga uses Sekaran (Joe Malloori), who runs a mill, as a front to add legitimacy to himself. Blade is in love with Sekaran's daughter Vidya (Nayanthara), a pre-KG teacher, who is also attracted towards him. When their affair comes to light, Sekaran has a fallout with Naga, who refuses to share his rightful share of money. Blade decides to help Sekaran and gets into the bad books of Naga. Meanwhile, the new cop in town ASP Pugazhendi (Gopinath) is waiting for a chance to take out Naga.
Despite the formulaic plot, Thirunaal could have been an undemanding action entertainer, but the predictable scenes and leisurely narration keep letting it down. Ramnath also slips in the characterisation of Naga. He is introduced as someone to be feared (he had murdered a judge in the court premises), but after that he is mostly shown drinking or sleeping with women. Not since Jackie Shroff in Aaranya Kaandam have we seen a gangster driven mainly by his libido and alcohol. But there are some enjoyable bits — like the scenes featuring Ramadas, which, though silly, are amusing, the sub-plot involving Karunaas, who once again shows that he can be a good character artiste as well, and Mahesh Muthuswami's cinematography.
There are times when the director tries to nudge the film from becoming routine, especially in the second half once Blade reforms, and see signs of a darker story about violence begets violence but these efforts end up as half-hearted attempts because they are done only to deliver a message (the end card has the director preachifying about the need to love one another) than to narrate a story.