Tamil Reviews

Ivan Thanthiran Review: Well Intentioned But Unrealistic Take on Engineering College Extortion

There’s a moment in Ivan Thanthiran that makes for a perfect picture. A close-up of Gautham Karthik’s face bang in the middle of the screen, framed in rain. It’s just so right on axis, that it’s strangely therapeutic. Or perhaps it’s the wonderfully-synchronized movement of rain against something still. Whatever it is, the effect is beautiful. Nothing against Gautham Karthik, of course – he’s a pretty boy, I grant you that, slipping right into the role of a genius engineer after a momentary lapse. There’s no fanfare around his introduction on screen – just a blunt cut to his bruised face. He’s being battered to death by a bunch of goons.


R Kannan seems to have some pent-up angst against engineering colleges; he gets RJ Balaji to deliver a lengthy monologue deriding the plight of engineering graduates. Yet, as the film progresses, he sympathizes with them, calling out the rising tuition fee and absurd rules of the colleges. In the same breath, he also gets RJ Balaji to deliver another lengthy monologue defending the profession as a whole.

This love-hate relationship notwithstanding, his hero (Gautham Karthik as Sakthi) is a brilliant college dropout who designs hardware. He’s made a savior of, his brilliance reiterated every few seconds. In one instance, he ransoms his way out of the police station after fixing a woman cop’s computer. And that merits him a victory lap in the form of song. The sort that you watch with one eye.


The sets of Ivan Thanthiran are beautiful, even if a little bizarre. Shraddha Srinath (as Asha) is given a lovely place to live in. It’s almost picturesque except for the conical flasks and beakers replete with colourful liquids that take centre-stage in the living room. Just as I think that the lady’s profession could have been portrayed better, a flask breaks, and out gushes Nitrous Oxide. Then, I realise, the whole thing had just been an elaborate setup for comedy. The actors laugh uncontrollably, because it’s ‘laughing gas’ – which is generally used as an analgesic and anaesthetic during medical procedures, and is only called so because of the mild euphoric feeling it induces.

One of the film’s better moments take place when Sakthi tells Asha that he is in love. Asha turns him down gently; Sakthis takes it in his stride. There are no sad songs, and the hero doesn’t wallow in self-pity. He quietly accepts what she says, drops her back home, and they go separate ways. That was perhaps the most decently thought-out ‘love-failure’ scene ever, I think, but Asha shows up a while later under the most absurdly convenient circumstances, with the most ridiculous dialogue that has to be heard to be believed.



Director Kannan has good intentions. He wants to pull the rug from under these extortion camps that are engineering colleges, call out their mode of operation. To do that, he conceives the most idealist scheme ever, one that makes an overnight celebrity of a small-time entrepreneur. His thugs are black and menacing with large involvement in politics, while his heroes are just that: heroes with no blemish whatsoever. They elicit sympathy, trick the goons into a trap and watch as they drown in a hell specially designed for them. The mother of all passive-aggressive action.

Not surprisingly, the big theatre assigned to the movie, is almost full, supporting every dialogue about struggling engineering graduates with applause.

Gautham Karthik, on the other hand, is celebrating a first of sorts. An ad card for his previous release – Rangoon – flashes on one of the screens as I walk out.


The Ivan Thanthiran 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 any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.