Review: THAANDAVAM Is Boring, Forgettable Garbage

J Hurtado, Contributing Writer
I love movies, good and bad.

Let's just get that out there.

I try to approach each new film I see with an open mind, ready to enjoy it on its own merits. The idea that I'd intentionally subject myself to a film that I'm expecting to hate is completely foreign to me. I'm really good at surrendering myself to a film's internal logic and allowing me to be swept up in whatever nonsense it wants to throw my way as long as it is entertaining, that's really my only hard and fast criteria for enjoying something. It can be a masterpiece, or a piece of garbage, but if it entertains me, I'm sold. Conversely, there is no greater sin for a film than to be boring, and Vijay's latest film, Thaandavam, is soul-crushingly boring.

Expectations were low for Thaandavam based upon the trailer and its complete lack of style. However, I had some hope that lead actor, Vikram, would be able to lead the film to the promised land with his jawline chiseled from granite and affinity for off the wall characters. You see, over the last decade or so, Vikram has made a name for himself portraying over the top characters in some of Tamil cinema's most popular films. There was the title character in Anniyan, a film by Enthiran (Robot) director Shankar, in which Vikram's character is a normally timid attorney with multiple personality disorder who happens to be a kung fu master/angel of death in a film that is a bizarre musical comedy iteration of David Fincher's Se7en. Then there was Kanthaswamy, by director Susi Ganesan, in which Vikram plays an income tax agent with the CBI who moonlights as a chicken-suited superhero fighting against the evils of corruption in rural Tamil Nadu. Most recently, though, was Deiva Thirumagal, a Tamil film version of I Am Sam, in which Vikram plays a developmentally challenged adult fighting for the right to see his daughter, which featured one of the most absurd trailers I've ever seen.

Deiva Thirumagal was directed by A.L. Vijay, who seemed to have a decent grasp on how to make an interesting looking film, in spite of the ridiculous nature of the film itself. However, with Thaandavam he seems to have lost all notion of style, and the film is probably the most amateurish and bland big budget Indian films I've seen in a long time. Between the Birdemic level CG explosions, the remarkably flat cinematography, and the poorly choreographed and edited songs, Thaandavam comes across like a first feature, not the work of a pro. If you then add excruciatingly long flashback sequences, terrible line readings from every Caucasian in this London-set film, and the usual problem of inconsistent tone without any kind of excitement to balance it all out, the film becomes an utter disaster.

What is most frustrating about the failure of Thaandavam is all of the wasted resources at everyone's disposal. The film was produced by UTV Motion Pictures, the biggest studio in India. Beyond the casting of Vikram, which should have been enough to bring something of value, the supporting cast is also remarkably strong. Vikram is joined by Jagapathi Babu, who turns in the best performance in the film as Vikram's cop buddy; Naseer, in a rare appearance as a good guy following his nasty performance in Rowdy Rathore; and Tamil comedian extraordinaire Santhanam, who got more reaction from the audience with his babbling one-liners than any of the action in the film.

The bottom line is that in spite of being given numerous advantages right off the bat, Thaandavam squanders all goodwill by delivering a half-assed, ponderous, and downright stupid film with no discernible redeeming values. There was a point around the 150 minute mark where I forgot that I loved movies, and I started to hate myself for sitting through this pile of shit. Avoid at all costs, I get the feeling that once the word gets out, everyone else will do the same.
Around the Internet:
  • PRIYA

    ANUSHKA VKRAM LOVE STORY WAS AWESOME GOOD....WUD HAV BEEN A HIT WIT SOME LITL CHANGES

  • saravana gounder

    The film is already a hit. thumbs down to the review!!

  • nagaraj

    good review

  • nagaraj

    BORING BORING BORING
    EXPECTED LOT FROM VIJAY
    FILM IS SLOW AND TOTALFLOP
    VIKRAM IS VERY OLDIE AND LOOKS AWKWARD
    WARNING FOR SHANKAR AND HIS PROJECT WITH VIKRAM

    MUST EXERCISE PATIENCE, CAUTION AND STUDY RESEARCH AND DO A GOOD PROJECT IN FUTURE GOOD CHANCE FOR COMING BACK WITH
    ILAAY ATHALAPATHY
    FILM LOOKS LIKE SEEING 3 FILMS AND ALL THREE BORING
    FIRST HALF BORING AND SLOW HEADACHE WILL SURE VISIT
    VIKRAM PLEASE RETIRE
    UTV PRODUCED CONSECUTIVE FLOPS MGHAMUDI AND THAANDAVAM VIKRAM FLOP KING
    BHEEEMA
    RAAJAPAATTAI
    KANADASWAMY
    THANDAVAM ALL MEGHA APROJECTS FAILUTE
    AASCAR TAKE CARE IN INVSTING HUGE MONEY IN VIKRAM NEXT PROJECT
    WARNING TO SHANKAR YOUR PROJECT HOWEVER EXCELLENT WITH VIKRAM MAY NOT BE A HIT
    LISTEN
    THANDAVM GORA THANDAVAM

  • dheeraj

    u seem to be a hardcore vikram hater and true vijay fan.. Surya and Vikram are one of the leading talents in tamil industry today.. Yeah, his movies are flops coz he doesn't choose good scripts.. Yes, thaadavam was bad.. Given a good script and a good role, he can pull it off like no other actor.. No wonder he's a national award winner.. ur ilaya thalapathy vijay is doing his next movie with same the director of thaandavam "vijay".. M pretty sure u'll come here comment in favour of him..

  • krishnakumar

    agree once in bluemonn vikram give hit
    anniyan and deivathirumagal were only hits in his last 1 films
    out of 53 film she has acted exce 12 films all are flop
    i am unable to comprehend how and why film producers are after him despite failures only for his acting talent
    he has given a worst movie thandavam

  • krish

    nice and true fair observations kee it u

  • kannan

    agreed to the core

  • vikram

    excellent and very good observation aand eyeopener for a

  • vikram

    Totally true and agree

  • radha

    good observations

  • nagaraj

    already remved frommbangalore theatres
    scrap must be ahuge loss for UTV who also produced a flo mughamudi
    wasting money in such projects
    boring to the core
    Worried about his project with Ilaythalaathy
    Director vijay take care in fututre

  • The film wouldn't have been half as bad had it employed a linear narrative structure. With all the flashbacks, I simply couldn't bring myself to care for any of the characters: not for Vikram losing his wife, not for him going blind, not for the betrayal he suffers.

    Here's a little I wrote. Would appreciate your thoughts on it.

    http://whatbusdriver.blogspot....

  • J Hurtado

    Good observations, I suppose I was too bored to make the same ones. I would have loved for Vikram to go over the top, but the whole thing feels so flat

  • Pavithran

    it is a crap film totally....would be a big deal if it managed to remain in theatres for 3 weeks. first day, night show the fans themselves were mocking the film and wanting to leave.predictable.boring. like this aint enough yu have scenes ripped right out from gajini and kandaswamy...man o man...and the music...no, i believe enuf has already been said about it.there's no doubt whatsoever that this film will be a big flop..

  • Seelan

    I am Tamil and I watched this film and, yes, hands down, it is a bad film! It does have a couple of good scenes, but they are sandwiched between many many irritating, silly, illogical ones. Vijay is easily the most overrated, unimaginative, manipulative filmmaker Tamil cinema has seen in ages. But people love him and his film, he is even being hailed as the future of Tamil cinema (no joke!) Our audience enjoys these kind of crappy, so-called masala films, they always did and they will continue to do. They really do! Pretty sad that...

  • J Hurtado

    I enjoy good masala, it does exist. This just isn't it.

  • deepak

    It was a good movie.. I think reviewer doesnt like Vikram or any good movies. He has written something shit. It was better than Deivathirumagal..

  • radh

    if this film is good you must be eating shit only in the house
    vkram face islike shit in this film boring and flop
    if u like watch it may not run for even 15 days

  • Rajappa

    well said deepak...this mother fucking asshole sitting in any cafe and posting some crap about the actor and film.

  • murali

    why u use such unarliamentary word for a boring film and accept wish and what u practice your wife to be watchful

  • vignesh

    There may be pros and cons in the film. But overall it's an family entertainer. Comedy works out really well in the film, especially santhanam and village sequence which Josh don't even understand. Also love between Vikram and Anushka done some magic. Director justified his story as far as possible. But there may be little shades of Gajini and Honestraj in the film. Other than that film is an awesome entertainer and must watch.

  • Aditya

    I am not surprised at where you are coming from. You are not Indian, much less tamil, mate. So there is no way on earth you will ever 'get' these kind of movies. As snooty as this may sound, The average tamil movie is not made for the likes of you and cannot be judged on the same yardstick that one uses to judge a Hollywood or even a bollywood movie. These movies are meant to entertain B and C centers in Tamil Nadu, where this movie incidentally is running to full shows. Outside the country, I suspect this movie will be enjoyed by those tamils who are desperately home-sick, but cannot/will not go back and are looking for anything remotely resembling home to cling on to. Every one else will find this movie utter trash.

  • This is a very tired explanation of why I don't like bad movies. I've heard it before and it's no more true now than it ever was. The film is bad, no amount of justification will make it a good film.

  • Rajappa

    Just shut ur mouth and get the hell out son of the bitch...if u can, try giving good movies. i hope u r the most illiterate asshole who like some butt fucking porn movies...

  • sorry, but you need some serious counseling. The reviewer said it failed to entertain him that's his point if u think it's entertaining then argue, point where it has the elements to entertain why it is a good movie unlike what he said but by abusing you just showed that you are an intolerable fuck.

  • Funny that YOU would call someone illiterate with grammar like that, dawg. If you're going to troll, try to sound semi-intelligent.

  • Aditya

    I am not justifying the film and I do suspect that a lot of people will hold your ethnicity as a stick to attack your credibility as a reviewer for Tamil movies.

    For the record - I do not think it is a great movie either. But this will easily figure in the 3 best tamil movies released in 2012. Which is why I suspected that you are applying an unreasonable yardstick to measure tamil movies.

    Just to get a better idea of how you rate tamil cinema - could you tell me which tamil movies in the last 3 years you have not found to be 'garbage'.

    P.S: Two movies that you do mention - Kandasamy and Rowdy Rathore were utter bilge.

  • DragunR2

    Kandasamy is so dedicated to its batshit craziness that it was hard for me not to enjoy it, even if it is way too long. I understand why people don't like it, but at least it stands out.

    Forget about whether or not this audience or that audience will like it. Josh has seen enough Indian films (including Tamil and Telugu films) to where he's not a total noob to them, and he does contextualize them as much as necessary. But depending on the film, contextualizing is simply making excuses for mediocrity. I haven't seen Thaandavam, but it does not look like a great film that needs a ton of culture-specific context to fully appreciate it.

    Ultimately all any critic can do is offer his own opinion. He's not writing about whether B and C audiences in India will like it, he's writing about whether or not HE liked it.

  • Aditya

    @above, Fair enough, but you like Josh, completely miss my point.

    Going by the standards he has set for himself, Josh will find that he is not going to like 95% of tamil/telugu movies.

  • All I'm asking is to be entertained. This movie failed to achieve that goal. That is my only standard.

  • DragunR2

    I doubt even Indians would like 95% of the movies if they saw all of them. Who would like that much of ANY industry's films?

  • Abby

    Completely disagree with what you had to say. Just watched the movie in Sydney and it was AMAZING! The acting was top notch and the movie was extremely entertaining. Vikram as usual was at his best while Anushka and Amy Jackson were just perfect for their roles and acted really well too. Every time Santhanam came on screen everyone couldn't help but break into laughter. Loved him, he was really great. Awesome film overall.

  • ANONYMOUS

    ABBY
    FILM IS UTER FLO
    YOUR TASTE OINION ARE ALL DOUBTFUL AND GE ADMITTED IN MENTAL TO CURE RATHER THANMISGUIDING EOLE
    YOU KNOW T MEANING OF AMAZING
    HOW U CAN TELL SUCH ABLATANT LIE EVEN IF YOU LIKE NUNABLE TO WATCH ASINGLE MINUTE DONT MISGUIDE
    UTTER UTTER BORING TO THE CORE

  • Guest

    Completely disagree with what you had to say. Just watched the movie in Sydney and it was AMAZING! The acting was top notch and the movie was extremely entertaining. Vikram as usual was at his best while Anushka and Amy Jackson were just perfect for their roles and acted really well too. Every time he came on screen everyone couldn't help but break into laughter. Loved him, he was really great. Awesome film overall.

  • lav

    scrapda
    watched in jersy
    unable to sit
    scrap to the core
    vijay to be careful

  • Martin Wagner

    Had a look at the trailer and it gave no clue as to what the story was even about. It was like "Here are some scenes." What is it about anyway?

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