Jigarthanda DoubleX Review - Glorious!
‘Tantalising Recipe’ was the crisp heading for the review that I wrote about Jigarthanda, the 2014 film. That film really took you by surprise and it was unlike anything that you were used to regularly on the big screen in Tamil cinema. Everything about that film, be it the look and feel of it or how it kept shifting genres or the use of humour in the most unexpected of places, it made you really sit up and take notice. The challenge is bound to be bigger for Jigarthanda DoubleX, the spiritual sequel to the earlier film. Firstly, it is bound to be compared to the 2014 film and secondly, even it is really good, how is it going to surprise the audience with a theme that is obviously going to be similar to the earlier film. If you would like a short answer before going into the details, it is ‘YES’. Oh, and I missed the question. Has Karthik Subbaraj made you sit up again and take notice?
The brilliance of Jigarthanda DoubleX is that while it definitely is similar to its predecessor in many ways, it also keeps throwing surprises all along. This film also revolves around a filmmaker and a gangster. But there is a twist with regards to the former. This film is also about how the two characters become different personalities during the course of filming. But the cause here is bigger. It isn’t about their selves. It is about the society and how they begin viewing it. If Jigarthanda was about two characters who come into their own through art, Jigarthanda DoubleX is about art choosing two characters to make something that is going to be a mirror to the society. Most of Karthik Subbaraj’s films have been political or he has always made sure that he is discussing about something that is important. It was feminism in Iraivi, industrial pollutants in Mercury, the politics of boundaries in Jagame Thandhiram and ideological extremism in Mahaan. In Jigarthanda DoubleX, the politics takes a bigger shape, in the sense, it also involves politicians as major characters and the film makes a commentary on the system. In a way, Jigarthanda DoubleX is as political as the director’s previous films, but unlike them, it may actually be talking about ‘POLITICS’, as in, the political system.
The fascinating aspect of Jigarthanda DoubleX is how it blends the core theme of the film with the ‘Jigarthanda’ template. The film is literally packed all through. There is hardly any breathing space. Even when the proceedings aren’t tense, there is so much to notice. The frames are gorgeous and probably, there are numerous easter eggs and references. There is a film director who plays Veena and wears shorts. (S. Balachander?) There are scenes showing a director knocking actors and members of the film crew on their heads using his knuckles. (You probably have heard a lot about how actors who got ‘kottu’ from their directors, made it big much later). And the date in which the gangster calls upon filmmakers to narrate their scripts is June 22. Maybe it was random, but I guess even the year is 1974 (or was it 1973?). Doesn’t it ring a bell now? Then if course, there are direct references to Clint Eastwood and Rajnikanth. Guess, there is bound to be a lot more that I probably missed. There are characters as well, that remind you of popular names. Maybe you will see discussions and debates (heated ones?) on this in the coming days. And yes, lest I forget, Pather Panchali does become Paathala Paanjali!
The acting is consistently good. Raghava Lawrence is a pleasant surprise and S.J.Suryah excels in a rather subdued avatar. The last half hour of the film does change tones, but it does pull you in. And the topic that is being discussed in this last segment is pretty much there right from the beginning. It is not as though the film jumps into a new territory. It has always been leading to this. The brief backstory about why Raghava Lawrence becomes the person he is felt a little flimsy. But that arc gets a closure in the second half. A man loses his humanity seeing an animal, and then the same man regains it through the same animal.
There is a lot to unpack in Jigarthanda DoubleX. But this packed nature of the film also comes with a lot of clarity. Everything does come together. This is a gorgeous looking film with a lot to discuss! A lot about the filmmaking as well as the subject!