About 19 years ago, on a cold December evening, I watched Sethu, and stood red-eyed on a crowded Delhi road. Since then, I’ve unconsciously compared every film of Vikram’s to his turn as the college leader who turns a sensitive lover before he is felled and his memory is a haze. His films could belong to any genre, but there was this fire, this spark he brought to every role. Be it as the eponymous Saamy or the boy who grew up in a grave in Pithamagan or even in Anniyan. There would be this pain that flit across his face, a tender half smile that lit up his face and pure fury that took over his entire countenance. And, so I may be pardoned for not particularly warming up to his Jeeva in Sketch.
Many questions arise when watching a film that might have still looked good on paper. But, the execution, oh the execution! It’s almost like the sketch was drawn for the audience. Making a film with many strands calls for a certain finesse. Remember the recent Maanagaram, where director Lokesh held a tight rein over the proceedings? Or, even Goli Soda, that was taut for a film on teenagers who decide to show their might.
Sadly, Sketch’s Vijay Chandar has little control over proceedings, barring the well-thought-out reveal at the end, and the way the perceived enemy is vanquished.
Four friends work together ‘lifting’ vehicles whose dues have not been paid. Jeeva aka Sketch draws up a plan and removes a vehicle from a place without a hitch. Of course, to the accompaniment of a narcissistic dialogue full of bluster. One day, he draws up a sketch to not drive away, but to just take a selfie with a red-pink car belonging to the villain, just to make his owner (Hareesh Peradi) happy. Everything unravels then on. Three friends die unnaturally, and Sketch is determined to extract revenge.
In between, there’s a romantic track with Tamannaah Bhatia. See her in this film, and see her in the 2016 Dharmadurai to see how differently directors can tap into the actress. She sashays across the frame wearing saris to college, with an unpleated pallu, of course. And, even manages to board Chennai’s buses. Many women who take the public transport might want to know how she manages that fine feat. I’ll not even get into the choice of saris. Predictably, a girl from an educated household, who is supposedly good at studies, falls for a henchman who lifts vehicles, and smiles through a situation when he is outed after he ferries her around on her birthday in her own lost vehicle, now with a colour and number change. Of course, after initially scoffing at him. When will we get well-written roles for women in commercial cinema? Real, thinking women?
It’s a crime to waste the callsheet of someone like Vikram, who can light up a frame with little effort. To make him look wan takes effort. Lots of it. And, sadly, that’s who we get. He gamely does what’s expected of a commercial hero, but after a point, it all falls flat.
The songs are ridiculous speedbreakers, coming in the way of a script that is already in need of acceleration. The characters need better defining. You’re still wondering what Hareesh’s intentions are when the end credits roll. And, what is the supercop out to achieve?
Cinematographer M Sukumar is in great form, giving the night a new, eerie life, and day, a joyous brilliance. There are some moments in the film that leave you smiling. Chitti, one of the friends, is afraid of thunder, lightning and rain. He even refuses to leave a theatre after the night show because it’s raining. When he dies, the friends and Sketch’s uncle, who’s lost an arm in a gang war, quickly rustle up a shelter of sorts for his grave, because it rains.
In another scene, when the said uncle calls upon his one-time gang, they rush in to greet each other like long-lost friends. That one scene shows what the eco-system of a gang is like, what is it that draws people to stick to a life of crime, and the kind of relationships they forge where spilling blood takes precedence over blood relations.
Mention must be made of the misogyny. Of late, I’ve started pinching myself when a film does not tread that path. This one followed the herd. “Ava aal illa, asingam” (She’s not your girl; she’s a slur) and “Ponnuna naalu pasanga love pannathaan seivaanga” (If there’s a girl, it’s obvious four boys will love her), among others, are examples. There’s a lot of community ridicule too. “Ponnu yeppam vechu thayir saathama illa karisoaraa-nu kandupidipaen” (when a girl belches, I’ll know if she eats curd rice or mutton curry) and the done to death ‘maami’ are sparkling examples of insensitive writing.
There’s one scene in the film, a la Sethu, where Vikram clutches his heart and says, “Valikudhu-da” (it hurts), almost like an ode. If the former melted your heart and opened you up to the hero’s pain, the latter makes you smirk. And, that’s all I have to say about a Sketch that goes all wrong.
The Sketch 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.