Synopsis of the film Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu: In search of a better life, a young man from Tamil Nadu travels to Bombay and ends up getting sucked into the criminal underworld. Will he be able to escape the bloodshed and violence?
Review of the film Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu: The protagonist of Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu, Muthuveeran (Silambarasan TR), is accustomed to life dealing him a bad hand. When we first see him barely escaping from a wildfire very early in the movie, we get a sense of this. His life has been filled with thorns, quite literally, so when the issue of survival arises, he is prepared to do whatever it takes – including getting involved with the underworld – to give his mother Lakshmi (Radikaa Sarathkumar) and sister Gomathi a better life. When he witnesses the death of a relative, he learns about the danger this life poses even before entering this world.
In order to work in a parotta shop that serves as a front for the gangster Karji, this young man from Karuvakkulam travels to Bombay. Muthu eventually becomes embroiled in the conflict between Karji and Kutty Krishnan Nair (Siddique). Can he escape this vortex that is drawing him into murder and violence, especially after falling in love with Paavai (debutante Siddhi Idnani, who alternates between seeming confident and tentative in various scenes)?
Gautham Vasudev Menon attempts a gangster saga with Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu that plunges us into the underworld, where those driven by desperation are used as pawns by their bosses in their game of one upmanship. The director offers an unflinching view of this dangerous world filled with exploited people and unrealized potential. He frames the parotta shop like a prison the first time we see it to visually indicate what Muthu is getting into. Although Muthu’s descent (or ascent, depending on how you want to look at it) in this way follows a somewhat well-known arc, Gautham makes these scenes interesting by gradually revealing to us how the gang operates.
We already know that Muthu will use the gun that appears in his hand in the earlier scenes to carry out the murder that his mother has sent him to avoid (she believes that murder is in his destiny), but the way the director gets there feels new. Engu thodangi/Engu mudiyum/Aattrin payanam, a line from Thamarai’s rendition of AR Rahman’s majestic Marakkuma Nenjam that repeatedly repeats at crucial moments, beautifully highlights the story’s central idea.
Sreedharan (Neeraj Madhav), a Malayali who arrives in Bombay at the same time as Muthu and joins Kutty’s gang, provides a counterpoint to Muthu. Gautham demonstrates that there is still hope for someone who decides to leave this world. Even Muthu receives a chance like this, which he is initially shown to be taking.
But the film stumbles when it reveals what happens after that. The issue is that the supporting characters are not fully developed. Apart from the fact that they both have a weakness for women and that someone even more powerful than them is in charge, we learn very little about Karji and Kutty. Even the romantic portion, which is a strong suit for this director, is unimpressive. You can see Gautham trying to stray from his usual formula in terms of form (lengthy shots) and content (character-driven rather than plot-driven), but the understated, more realistic approach in many of the scenes runs counter to the filmic (in the portions involving a contract killer) and heroic moments (the epilogue) that we find in the latter half. Jeyamohan and the director collaborated on the screenplay, and it seems like they had different ideas for where they wanted to take it.
In terms of form (long shots) and content (character-driven rather than plot-driven), you can see Gautham attempting to break from his usual formula, but the understated, more realistic approach in many of the scenes contrasts with the filmic (in the sections involving a contract killer) and heroic moments (the epilogue) that we find in the latter half. The screenplay was co-written by Jeyamohan and the director, but it seems like they had different ideas for where they wanted to go with it.