Gangster dramas have always enjoyed an edge over other genres due to the nonpareil adrenaline rush they offer. In comes Pathu Thala with its sole focus on giving the audience the adrenaline rush. The film is about a dreaded underworld gangster who runs a government of his own until a sensational event threatens to dethrone him. Actor Silambarasan who was last seen in the neo noir gangster flick Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu is back on screens with his neo noir action thriller drama Pathu Thala. Actress Priya Bhavani Shankar has essayed the female lead in the movie. Director Obeli N Krishna has directed the flick. Pathu Thala is loosely based on the superhit Kannada film Mufti. So, how has the neo noir action thriller film Pathu Thala come out? Is it solid enough to hand actor Silambarasan a decent commercial success he is craving for and reinforce his image as a saleable lead hero? To know that let us get into the movie review.
Pathu Thala narrates the tale of AG Ravanan aka AGR (Silambarasan), an illegal sand mining mafia boss that calls the shots in down south of Tamil Nadu. The film opens to a mayhem triggered by the news of the missing chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Arunmozhi (Santhosh Prathap). The cops rush to investigate a suspect who works for AGR. Up on knowing this he commits suicide. The department deploys Shakthivel (Gautham Karthik), an IPS officer on an espionage mission to gather information on AGR and his network to bring him to justice. On recommendation of Kareem Bhai (Vettai Muthukumar), he joins as one of the henchmen of AGR under the alias Guna. He draws the attention of AGR’s trusted confidante after he secures a pile of cash from under the nose of the vigilance team. Meanwhile, deputy CM Naanjilaar Gunasekaran (Gautham Vasudev Menon), who is loggerheads with AGR spurs Ruby Fernandez, the head of the fishermen association to orchestrate a protest against the illegal mining operations of AGR to gain traction for himself in the upcoming byelections.
Ruby Fernandez executes Naanjilaar Gunasekaran’s plan. The protest goes out of control and ends up in the incineration of a retirement home. Enraged AGR, decapitates Ruby Fernandez. Incensed Naanjilaar Gunasekaran decides to kill AGR. Guna falls in the attention of AGR after he foils an assassination attempt set up for him. Soon one of AGR’s confederates witnesses Guna having a conversation with the Tahsildar Leela Thompson (Priya Bhavani Shankar), who is Guna’s ex-girlfriend, and suspects him as an informant. He breaks into Guna’s house, and gets hold of detailed evidence that could incriminate AGR. What happened to the CM of the state, will Naanjilaar Gunasekaran manage to put AGR to death, will AGR find out that Guna is a secret agent, or will Guna outsmart him and bring him to justice, is what makes the rest of the flick.
Director Obeli N Krishna has picked the trite template to construct his gangster drama Pathu Thala. A humanitarian and philanthropist gangster who runs a large-scale illegal operation and slaughters people that get in his way only because he has thousands of mouths to feed. Otherwise, he would have been working a job on a monthly wage. Common now! It is high time to let down this banal trope and start calling a spade a spade. Pathu Thala is not just marred by this narrative. But also, for its disposal of all its resources at crafting this god like stature to its central character. The man who can slay off an incumbent chief minister of a state at his pleasure. Why? Not for his personal gain apparently. Of course, for the sake of people. Why else? The film does not concern itself about any other aspect than hero worship. The reason why even a gray character with wide prospects such as actor Gautham Karthik’s is reduced to nonentity.
Both problematic and interesting aspects of Pathu Thala is its philosophy ‘You need to have a bad facet to do good.’ Though it is of debatable nature, it does hold some merit. The problem, however, is that Pathu Thala does not convincingly explore this idea. Rather, it just sprays this viewpoint as defense to all the bad its lead character does. At some point in the film a character is made to question AGR’s sense of doing good by destroying the land they live in. His perspective is that, ‘If he does not do it, someone else will. Besides, he donates everything to the welfare of people.’ But what he conveniently neglects to mention are what funds his majestic helicopter rides, and his posh castle or the fortress on his term. Perhaps, a fee for doing good?
AGR appears to be a tailor-made part specifically written with actor Silambarasan in mind. His physic, beard, and black attire further compliment him in the role. He looks quite sophisticated playing a gangster, and sells AGR convincingly without shedding a sweat. Actor Gautham Karthik makes his presence felt with his terrific performance. Actor Gautham Vasudev Menon has enjoyed playing his part, and garners our attention. Actress Priya Bhavani Shankar in a heroine filler role that does not hold much space for her to perform. Nonetheless, she has done complete justice to her part. Actor Santhosh Prathap is as effective as usual. Actor Kalaiyarasan makes an impact. Actress Anu Sithara lights up the screen with her cuteness even in a short screen time. Actor Redin Kingsley as usual scores with his fantastic expressions, and provides the much necessary occasional comical relief. Actor Teejay Arunasalam serves the purpose for being on screen. Actor Madhu Guruswamy is functional. Actor Manushyaputhiran lives up to his role. Actor Namo Narayana is operational. Actors Joe Malloori, Obeli N Krishna, Gajaraj, Kannan Ponnaiyah, Vettai Muthukumar, Sendrayan, Ashvin Raja, Soundararaja, Abhishek Vinod, and Lakshmi Priya, have all contributed, and have played their roles well. Actress Sayyeshaa Saigal sizzles in the peppy number ‘Raawadi.’ The rest of the cast has delivered what was asked of them.
On the technical front, Oscar recipient A R Rahman is clearly not at his best foot. His tracks are decent. But except for ‘Raawadi’ , none of his songs are playlist worthy. But he more than makes up for the lost ground with his excellent background score that aids in building the godlike stature of the lead character. Cinematographer Farook J Basha’s frames are splendid. His lighting is a treat to the eyes. Editor Praveen K L brings forth his editing dexterity, and enhances the work of his colleague.
On the whole, storyteller Obeli N Krishna’s hyperfocus on constructing an omnipotent shade to the lead character leaves him little time to build the most imperative element for a film, the plot.