If Irumbu Kuthirai glorified bikes, Burma is about cars. Of all shapes and sizes. A Contessa Classic painted in a quirky shade of yellow, flashy BMWs, faithful SUVs, just about everything in the market. But while Irumbu Kuthirai flirted with super-bikes, Burma showcases the darker side of things: car-jacking. There’s no hero in Burma, no villain either – just characters painted in varying shades of grey. And that’s a huge relief; for there’s no underlying strain of sympathy, no obvious nudge towards someone on screen. We are just left to draw our own conclusions, and wallow in them for the next two hours.
Burma opens with a man at the wheel of a large SUV, tearing down the countryside, raising a cloud of dust in his wake. A cherubic plastic doll hangs at the dashboard. Suddenly, he pauses to frown at a road sign. Clambers down from the car, and squints at it. In a flash, the SUV behind him roars to life, and vanishes down the road. The man gapes after it in disbelief.
The camera now veers back on to the road-sign. It reads ‘Burma’.
If there was a striking feature about Burma, it would be Sampath Raj, and by extension, his loud shirts. In an early shot, we see him walking out of prison, after scrawling his name on the warden’s dusty register. Clad in a bright floral shirt. He is Guna, the dreaded “car-seizer” in the city, all vivid prints and aviators, with several assistants to do his bidding. Among them are Burma (Michael Thangadurai), and Boomer (Karthik Sabesh). Both curiously named. Burma, short for Paramanandam, and Boomer – we never really get to know what his real name is.
When Burma and Boomer fall out of grace with Guna – no children’s story, this – they embark on a rival “car-seizing” heist of their own. And go about it with practiced ease. There’s Atul Kulkarni as the dreaded tycoon, Seth, who hands them a job, rival gangs whom they run afoul of, parallel tracks about a “priceless Easter egg”, an ATM robbery, murder, kidnapping…the script hurtles forward in a dizzying pace. Laced with dry humour and livened up by endearing oddball characters and accurately-placed music – Burma’s ring-tone is the infamous dialogue from Kurudhipunal (“Veeram na enna nu theriyuma…bayam illadha madri nadikardhu”). Heck, we even get to hear Gundu Onnu Vechirukken and Who Let the Dogs Out, all humorously in sync with the proceedings on screen.
And while Guna flits in and out of the movie at random intervals, we wish we would see more of him. There’s something about Sampath Raj that inspires dread; he is quite simply a magnificent presence on screen. And when he strolls in with aviators, with a quirky floral shirt to boot, in a cool swagger, we are quite inclined to think he’s Burma.
We wish he’d been Burma.
PS: In a spirited tribute to Burma’s theme, a slide-show that rolls at the end of the movie features a host of celebrities and the “cars of their choice”. Kamal Haasan prefers an Audi, it says, while Harris Jayaraj is quite fond of the Lamborghini, GV Prakash Kumar is all for a Jaguar, and Rajnikanth – in classic superstar style – apparently prefers the age-old Premier Padmini.
The Burma 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.