MOVIE SYNOPSIS: A group of young men kidnaps a politician-gangster, who is awaiting the results of an election. What are they after?
MOVIE REVIEW: For almost the entire first half of Theru Naaigal, we are in a state of confusion over what is happening and why. In the opening scene, we see a group of young men break into a school, and being stopped on their way back by Marudhamuthu, a cop on patrol. The narrative then jumps to Chokkalingam, the incumbent MLA who is now awaiting an election result, and his bitter rivalry with Settu, a bigshot in the town. There is also an episode involving Kumar, one of the youngsters, being rounded up by cops who are planning an encounter.
On the screen, we keep getting visual information in the form of dates — from the events that happened on May 26 to the events of a few days prior to and after that day.
And gradually, director Hari Uthara starts filling us in with the missing pieces. This use of fractured timelines is what makes Theru Naaigal, which you realise is a vigilante story, different from the umpteen ones we have seen till date. This approach keeps us guessing about what is at play and what is at stake, and the film remains engaging for the most parts. The moody cinematography of Thalapathy Rathnam also gives the film a certain rawness that works to its advantage, although, the use of frequent slow-motion shots becomes tiring after a point.
What stops the film from being truly good is the flashback portion that is a bit too long and digresses a little to include a romantic track, which seems to have been added on as a compromise. This episode, which is centred around a restrained Imman Annachi, should have been a moving moment, but we never feel strongly about what happens here. And a couple of comedy scenes involving Appukutty kills the mood. Still, as a debut film, Theru Naaigal manages to be a minor success.