: A righteous ambulance driver rubs a politician on the wrong side, and the latter decides to teach him a lesson.
: Thondan opens with a scene in which some men violently attack an unarmed man in public and leave him fighting for life. And this happens right in front of a Gandhi statue! In case we don’t get the irony, the scene begins and ends with a shot of this statue. Subtlety, clearly, isn’t Samuthirakani’s forte. He doesn’t make a movie, but takes a class.
Here, he tells us to empower ourselves and take care of our problems without seeking the help of the police every time, respect women, save farmers, put service to home before nation, save lives, ignore caste, and make note of the failures of our politicians.
Samuthirakani plays Mahavishnu, a conscientious ambulance driver who is proud that he has saved the life of every victim who he has taken to the hospital in his ambulance. And he calls the ambulance his mother and describes doing good as intoxicating. He rubs Manthiri Narayanan (Namo Narayanan), a local heavyweight and the son of a minister, the wrong way by saving the man who was attacked in the film’s opening scene.
To make matters worse, Narayanan’s brother, Chinna Pandi (Soundararajan), who attacks a girl in her college, dies after being attacked by her classmates. And the girl who instigated the attack is Vishnu’s sister (Arthana), and the ambulance that carried the injured guy to the hospital is Vishnu’s. Narayanan wants to avenge his brother’s death by destroying Vishnu’s family. How does the pacifist Vishnu retaliate?
Thondan is largely a finger-pointing exercise that runs on predictable lines whenever it tries to be an issue-based film. In one scene, we see Samuthirakani playing to the gallery by talking about the jallikattu protests and breathlessly naming the different indigenous breeds of bulls that existed in the past. In another, he lectures Vignesh (Vikranth), his friend, after he stalks his sister, and makes his turn over a new leaf. But while we can appreciate the good intentions of the director, as a filmmaker, he does his film an injustice by making it preachy.
It is only in the scenes where he shows us the lives of its characters that the film truly comes alive. The scenes involving Vishnu and his colleague Xavier when they are away from work, the farcical neighbourhood night watch, Vishnu’s family going to Balambigai’s (Sunaina) house to seek an alliance, and Soori’s (who makes a hilarious cameo appearance along with Thambi Ramaiah) counterpunches during the climactic portions… these are what give this film some semblance of life. Otherwise, Thondan plays out like the movie equivalent of a moral science class.