In 8 Thottakkal, two legends face-off against each other, biting and chewing on existential lines.
(“A man will say that he will reform easily. He needs a little pain to really reform”; “I don’t want to prove my innocence to everyone. Not all of them deserve to know this.”).
The audience is left to stare open-mouthed at the sheer talent onscreen. Unfortunately, neither of these legends is the film’s leading man Sathya, played by Vetri.
On paper, the movie could have been a good launchpad for Vetri. It has a solid script, a role tailor-made for him, and some really good music by Sundaramoorthy. Unfortunately though, director Sri Ganesh decides to cast Nasser and MS Bhasker in the project, and makes Vetri stand next to them for a majority of the scenes.
For a debutante, this doesn’t look good. For a debutante that cannot act that well, this is catastrophic.
In an important scene towards the end, Vetri tries to assist Nasser in an investigation. Incensed, Nasser asks him to shut up and go home. In all scenes involving Vetri and the two other actors, there’s this overwhelming feeling of wanting Vetri to step aside, and not disturb the scene. Most of the time, it’s such a treat watching Nasser and MS Bhaskar perform that one gets irritated when the camera zooms in on Vetri’s expressionless face.
That is not to say Vetri is miscast in the movie.
He’s billed as the male lead in a film that doesn’t think much of its male lead.
In one scene, Nasser calls Vetri’s Sathya a ‘spineless saint’, the kind of introverted police officer who does all he can to stay away from life itself.
Things begin to get interesting in Vetri’s life only when he loses a gun. Almost immediately, the film takes on a frenetic pace – one bad incident piling on another till all the eight thottakkal are spent.
Sri Ganesh is not interested in the crime itself. The loss of a gun, the bank robbery Nasser investigates, are all mere props for the kind of ideas Ganesh wants to show. He wants to transpose a loving grandfather with someone who dismisses the death of a child during a bank robbery as ‘collateral damage’. He wants to show the villain who speaks of his adiyaal as the kind who’d eat off the same plate as him. Turns out, the adiyaal has a thing with the villain’s wife. It’s quirky, it’s fun..it’s a lot like Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Aaranya Kaandam.
The film is doused in a lot of realism, to the extent that the film’s two “romantic” songs feel like advertisement breaks.
Meanwhile, Nasser and MS Bhaskar have the time of their lives. Bhaskar, in particular, is a revelation. With that uncle-next-door voice and harmless demeanor, he’s the middle class man gone bad – toting guns, robbing banks and ever eager to kill the people who cross him.
The movie does meander a bit, as Sri Ganesh indulges himself. The two songs in particular are a total waste of space and time. The ending is a bit contrived, and the film really could’ve used better leads.
And yet, Bhaskar and Nasser, artistes who’ve gotten used to being the only actors in films with star non-performers, more than make up for it. With these two around, one just cannot look away from them. They just totally own the film – and that, helps a lot.
The 8 Thottakal review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.