Director: KR Prabhu
Cast: RJ Balaji, Priya Anand, JK Rithesh, Nanjil Sampath
Tamil cinema can now hire a strategist for its films based on present day Tamil Nadu politics. In the last one year, we’ve had Tamil Padam 2 which had its share of jokes on recent events, the more in your face NOTA and now, RJ Balaji’s LKG. They regurgitate the same scenarios, the same jokes and the same one-liners on the big screen. It’s probably the first time that some content has passed on from the small screen to the big one. These are jokes and references that we’ve already consumed in the form of memes on our smart devices. Some clever men have decided to piggyback on them all the way to the big screen and make some money while at it. Not too different from politicians eh? How many times can one laugh at an insignificant man eating “mixture” at the corner of the screen? So, a strategist is a good idea for they’ll take what sells and repackage it into viral content that can rake in the monies while also adding elements that could distinguish one politics-based film from another. At least RJ Balaji – who shares story and screenplay credits along with the titular role – has the decency to credit the writing to “RJ Balaji & Friends”. By friends, he probably means the hundreds of common people who’ve helped him along with the memes and satirical YouTube videos over the last couple of years.
The meme creators form a singular character in the KR Prabhu-directed LKG. LKG aka Lalgudi Karuppaiah Gandhi (RJ Balaji) is a ward councillor in Lalgudi with big dreams of ruling the state someday. Thankfully, he is not a conscientious do-gooder. He is a man of the times who knows what needs to be done to extract work out of erring contractors, out of corrupt leaders or out of the irresponsible electorate. When he has huge plans, he hires Trust Analytica, the film’s version of real-world Cambridge Analytica to strategise his political journey to the Legislative Assembly. The company’s Sara aka Sarla Munnuswamy (Priya Anand) suggests a powerful idea to make LKG famous – memes. They have full time meme creators who are clear about what they do – to shape public opinion, to be catchy and succinct. It is heartening to know that there exists a world where meme creators too work overtime, they are just like us. \
The film is not too different from what we’ve seen in the last two years – both on screen and on the news channels. There is a leader who is admitted to the hospital and dies under mysterious circumstances. Someone suggests that kids should stop playing cricket in the area where there is no water supply which makes LKG quip if that’s going to solve the problem. The hospital ward where all the MLAs rest after the Chief Minister is admitted is numbered 39 (number of Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu).
There are two problems with films of this genre in Tamil cinema. One, they don’t commit to their exercise completely. If it is a satire, it is not straight up satire. At some point, things turn into a conflict zone and a film that had no business taking itself seriously, does. In LKG, we are provided with a villain played by JK Rithesh, at whom we are expected to laugh and cringe in equal measure. Instead we cringe at ourselves because the whole theatre is laughing at homophobic and transphobic exchanges in the name of jokes. The film ends with a placard asking us to choose wisely in the next election. There is an emotional father-son angle with LKG’s father played by Nanjil Sampath, who is comfortably traversing the thin golden line of actor-politician with this film. Second, these films are just not inventive enough. There are some stray details in LKG that catch your eye and make you laugh – like when there is a Facebook live video of a problem at a school and the first person to comment asks if there’s any update on Thalapathy 63. But these are rare. If Tamil Nadu can be at the forefront of meme engineering, I am sure we can find a writer or two to inject some much-needed freshness into these films.
During LKG’s interval block, the trailer of Selvaraghavan’s NGK played. Another film based on politics with a big director and a bigger star, not to mention the three-letter acronym for the titular character. We wait in hope, which is also Suriya’s closing line in the trailer.
The LKG 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.