DIRECTED BY SUDHA K. PRASAD
STARRING: VISHNU VISHAL, SRIKANTH, SHAMNA KASIM, POONAM BAJWA, THYAGARAJAN, TANIKELLA BHARANI, RAJEEVAN, MANOBALA with S.P.B. CHARAN and POOJA UMASHANKAR
I hate Tamil films that take on their Foreign/Exotic counterparts, be it of present date or yesteryear. I hate those that derive from previous Tamil films even more. ‘Drohi’ is one such. Its plot outline had too much of ‘Agni Natchathiram’, in all fronts of sense and nonsense. Sometimes it’s good to keep the faith. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s just plain stupid. I don’t even have to tell you which category I think ‘Drohi’ as well as its shortsighted maker in debutante Sudha K. Prasad fall under.
Sami Srinivasan (Srikanth) is an impoverished Brahmin boy in Royapuram, a locale that supposedly brings out the beast in everyone. It’s like being born in a battleground, or so Ms. Prasad seems to think. I have my reasons to differ, but that’s another story. In this, however, the ‘thayirsadam’ as he’s called looks up to fellow classmate and the schoolyard bully in Karuna (Vishnu Vishal), only to be taken for granted in an abusive misunderstanding. Thus we have our premise, as pointless as it serves it be. What irked me even more was the pronunciation. ‘Karna’, as half of the world would know, is a Kshatriya with Shudra upbringing in an Epic that in itself is racist to inimitable extents – the ‘Mahabharata’. While in Samudhirakani’s ‘Nadodigal’ the name served as a metaphor for the protagonist’s selflessness, in ‘Drohi’, it nonchalantly aims to hint at his caste. Is this a necessity? I would think not. We’ve witnessed the extremity of Chennai’s underground in such films as ‘Pudhupettai’ and ‘Polladhavan’ without the deliberation. Ms. Prasad only loses further respect by alluding to the same.
As shameless as the film with its lack of sensibility are the female leads. To dote upon is one, to offer to enslavement is another. Ms. Prasad’s heroines seem to do both, their conviction being the only stronghold here. Shamna Kasim (a.k.a ‘Poorna’) is who I allude more to in this context. At first shot I thought of her Malar to be a hooker, only to repent for my grievous mistake later for she’s far worse a stereotype than that – she’s Karuna’s sister, and hence an object of a vengeful ploy as well as sexual satisfaction, wherein she’s gladly up for both. Women don’t seem to need men to degrade them, they seem to do a great job themselves; Ms. Prasad only strengthened my viewpoint on this. On the other hand, we have Shruthi and Lochani (Daughter and Mother, both played by Poonam Bajwa). The Mother had been an object of Karuna’s fantasy, a less-sensualized Malena Scordia, and hence has to retain her youthful sexiness. The Daughter is a set-piece – she just comes and goes. There ends the dual role. In addition, we have Thyagarajan, who gives us a good performance of a crappy role for which he's inexplicably miscast, and then we have Manobala in a hopeless effort that raises eyebrows than laughs. Tamil filmmakers have been too much into their ‘City of God’s and the worst of Tarantino; they also patronize Mani Ratnam. It's intolerable, we’re desperate for redemption here! And Pooja Umashankar (‘Naan Kadavul’, ‘Pattiyal’) seems to be the only tolerable choice in this casting-misadventure that aims to be an action-thriller. What a joke, right?
I had been into a bit of details as far as the film’s production went (let me not discuss my source here). As far as I know, the ‘Drohi’ I saw is a definite product of compromise although it most certainly couldn’t have been better. I found emphasis in all the wrong places and it tries too hard to please – and that too, not the intellect! More than being an example on what the Tamil film industry could do to promising talent, ‘Drohi’ is a sort of reverse-osmosis. It shows us how the absence of talent and sheer blind faith to predecessors are actually ripping the Industry apart. Bottom-line: ‘Drohi’ is not just a betrayal. It's a crime.