Steve Jobs had a particular design philosophy: a product must do one thing. An interface must do one thing. To have anything more confused the users and took the focus away from the product and onto the way the user interacted with the product: am I supposed to push this button or this? Go here or there? Is the product mainly about this or that?
Of course, people who make their products complex are not doing it merely to be dumb – they are hoping that more features will attract more people, and that everyone will find something they love. However, it is difficult to pull this off well. Such products tend to be hodgepodges of features, with no central vision.
This is the trap that Jigirthanda falls into as well. Karthik Subbaraj seems to have taken a racy thriller, and a comedy/drama film, and joined them together at the interval time. This obviously confuses the audience when they come back after getting popcorn and samosas to see how Siddharth and co will get out of this one, expecting more blood and gore, only to be met with “10 times kill and laugh”.
Now that I have gotten the main complaint out of the way, Jigirthanda was still one of the best films in recent times. The first half was extremely well-done, evoking comparisons in my mind to that classic, Puthupettai. The raw, earthy flavor of Madurai and the underworld was communicated very well. Cinematography was brilliant throughout the film, but especially so in key moments: the gang outlined in the lights through the rain just before the interval; the drops of petrol on Siddharth’s face near the end, all these moments stand out and make the film very visually rich.
The second half, if viewed from a comedy angle, was good. A friend told me he hadn’t laughed so much during a film in recent times. The acting classes were particularly rib-tickling. However, the comedy derailed the plot, taking the movie from cruising at 80 to meandering along at a 10. This is especially significant in a movie that is already longer than the usual – you want every moment to go by as fast as you can. The movie could definitely have used some better editing – personally, I am in favor of completely editing out Lakshmi Menon’s character and that awful drinks song out.
No review would be complete without mentioning Bobby Simha. What a performance! Facebook was filled with posts about him after the movie released, and rightly so – it is his performance that carries the movie through. The rest of the cast were selected carefully as well – they all gave the Madurai feel off very well – with one exception.
I am conflicted about Siddharth being in this movie. On one hand, having well-known stars act in movies like this raises the movie’s profile (I wonder how many people watched this because they thought it was a Siddharth movie..). It will make other stars eager to act in movies of upcoming directors like Karthik. On the other hand, Siddharth’s was easily the weakest performance in the movie. He looked so out of place in the whole movie – even the posters, with all the characters in it, evokes the reaction of one of these is not like the other.
Finally, I loved all the self-referential shots in the movie. With Siddharth’s character obviously based on the director, many dialogues in the film felt as if they were thoughts Karthik had while filming this movie itself. After Pizza, Karthik had raised expectations a lot – he hasn’t completely met them in Jigirthanda, but he is definitely on the right track.
But he would do well to learn from Steve Jobs.