Buffoon – Remains watchable but this political crime thriller needed more tension!
Buffoon gets a low-key start. Kumaran (Vaibhav) plays a buffoon (or clown or joker) in stage plays. His father is the showrunner of these plays, and he is someone who very passionate about his profession. However, Kumaran isn’t inclined to continue and wants to move on for better financial opportunities. These initial portions show some promise. The characters seem real, and their interactions come across as genuine. But after this, the film remains a mixed bag. In his search for better opportunities, Kumaran inadvertently gets into a precarious situation and is now on the run.
Buffoon is the story about an underdog. It is about a joker who has to bring down the kings. Debutant Ashok Veerappan tries to keep the film lightweight but also tries to fit in a lot of things. This includes the plight of refugees. Karthik Subbaraj is the producer and Buffoon is another instance where he is keen to touch upon the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils. In fact, the character played by Joju George has a lot of similarities with the character in Jagame Thandhiram played by the same actor. The problem with Buffoon is that it never gets the balance between being lightweight and serious correctly. The film never has a stretch that can be called poor, but it keeps shifting its focus. The audience need to be really invested in the plight of Kumaran for the tension on screen to work. But the character (and the way Vaibhav plays it) comes across as someone who is hardly perturbed by all the dangers that are engulfing him. The tension that we feel when the police officer (played superbly by Tamizh) is on screen or when the bad guys are scheming a plan is lost in the scenes involving the protagonist. We hardly feel the gravity of the situation because Kumaran himself doesn’t seem to. Surprisingly this looks like a conscious creative decision. This might work in a ‘mass hero’ template where we know that the hero is too big for anything to bother him. But for it to work in a film like this, there ought to be at least some fun or entertainment when the hero is around for us to buy into his nonchalance or at least forget it. But in Buffoon, this became a jarring problem, at least for me.
The final leg of the film sort of works a little better. A lot is packed, and the twists keep coming. Again, there is no real tension but there is at least some fizz to the proceedings. The climax of the film seems to drive home the message, 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’. But this message never comes across convincingly through the film.
Buffoon isn’t anything novel, but it certainly has an interesting core for an engaging outing. A more cohesive film with a lot more focus on the protagonist would have definitely worked better. For now, it is a film that remains watchable.