DVD Review: Thupparivaalan (2017)

It’s been a while since we’ve watched a finely crafted (murder-)mystery thriller like Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru (well ‘Nibunan’ wasn’t that bad but it never quite soared to the heights that it could have) and ‘Thupparivaalan’, I guess, is somewhere close to an answer. The movie, written and directed by Mysskin, and starring Vishal (and produced by him as well), pits an Indianized version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes – named Kaniyan Poongundran, against a vile, murderous antagonist who calls himself Devil (Vinay).

While making ‘Thupparivaalan,’ there are hardly any commercial compromises (#1: No songs, only a haunting violin-dominated background score by Arrol Corelli #2: No forced romance track). What leaves a solid mark is Mysskin’s unorthodox, idiosyncratic writing style. The humor is subtle, at times unintentional, and scattered at the most unexpected instances (such as a man transforming into a plant-vase during an action scene; Santa receiving a kick in the crotch; and the camera executing repeated 360-degree rotations while the chief antagonist breaks eggs into a frying pan; the cops running in a manner almost circus-like).


Mysskin proclaims his love for international cinema through the methodologies by which he stages some of the kills (chainsaw – actually employed for body-disposal than killing, poison darts, lightning emission, sepukku even!). His ‘stylized bunch of antagonists’, played by Vinay, Andrea, John Vijay and K Bhagyaraj (who was almost entirely unrecognizable for a good part of the film) and a couple of others, are first shown gathering over a home-cooked meal (a la. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, albeit quaintly).


One thing always stands out in Mysskin films is the immaculate staging of fights. The venues for much of the action too are unlike the usual ones (a building under construction, a Chinese restaurant, a mangrove-filled forest) seen in Tamil cinema. Add a superbly executed bike-chase sequence (with an astounding finale) to that (Andrea is terrific!). If we consider Vishal a couple of steps behind in terms of his acting chops (mostly displaying leaden expressions, except for one scene that was a little over-the-top), he compensates by excelling in the stunts department. He meticulously lands the punches and reversals, with the harmonica and moon-walks only sweetening the pot.

Some scenes might make the viewer raise eyebrows – like Kaniyan and Mano falsely identifying themselves as Stanley Kubrick, Karl Marx and Tamizhvannan (and Shankarlal) amongst others, but they happen so swift that we forget them when the bigger ‘crime’ picture takes over. ‘Thupparivaalan’ also features the most hilarious laughing-gas induced murder scene in the history of Indian cinema (I really laughed out LOUD for this segment, however terrible the aftermath turned out to be).

‘Thupparivaalan’ focuses more on ‘whydunnit’ than ‘whodunnit,’ revealing the identities of the murderers almost halfway into the film. The film places more weight on how Kaniyan unfolds a business conspiracy and eventually encounters the gang of antagonists, starting off with the case of a dog’s killing.


The one scene that I keep talking about in this review where Kaniyan showcases his emotional side stuck out like a sore thumb because of a lot of reasons: I’d have liked an expressionless Kaniyan here too, essentially falling in place with his character-build. The scene is supposed to be a ‘rescue scene’ but turns all-too-melodramatic. The fact that they instantly give up altogether without attempting to ‘save a life’ by rushing to the hospital also seemed quite ludicrous. This bothered me as it went much against the overall tone of the film.

Even with a sufficiently high death toll, ‘Thupparivaalan’ isn’t as dark as some of Mysskin’s other films. The villain’s motives are also not clearly expounded. Red herrings are thrown during the climax, but the payoff is almost negligible. There are plenty of known faces taking up supporting roles: Simran, Jayaprakash, Thalaivaasal Vijay, and Aadukalam Naren – all of them perform well. Ignore some of the peripheral flaws and you still have an engaging 150 minute cinematic piece, spurting thrills every now and then.

Verdict: Scrupulously entertaining!

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About the Author

Arun George
Thinker. Foodie. Travel-Enthusiast. Movie buff. Writer by Profession, Wanderer by Passion.

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