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In director Pandiraj’s Etharkkum Thunindavan, lead actor Suriya essays the role of Kannabiran, a lawyer who works for justice on behalf of young women affected by a form of gender-abuse.

The young women find themselves drawn unwittingly into a relationship trap that results in their unfortunate objectification on social media. It’s a sensitive topic, one that questions their (and society’s) interpretation of a woman’s “honor.”

In a key sub-plot, one of Kannabiran’s loved ones finds herself at the receiving end of this evil, and the movie tells us (and the Indian audience) that the shame should lie not with the victims, but rather with the creators of such content, and their social media-savvy friends that share, subscribe or like such material.

It’s an important message, one that demands a serious and sincere effort on the part of the filmmakers. Unfortunately, we get anything but that in Etharkkum Thunindavan.

For much of the first half, there is a rather tangential (and possibly needless) storyline of a town that is split into two factions owing to a history of disputes that barely registers in our minds.

There is also the constant distraction in the form of Kannabiran’s romantic track, followed by the absurd and belabored stretch of the lead couple’s unexpected wedding, that happens when everyone expects an abduction to happen. The characters creating a heightened sense of enthusiasm surrounding the event make the sequences doubly painful. With numerous such scenes (that I lost count of), Etharkkum Thunindavan is a piece of over-indulgent cinema that could have passed off as a B-grade potboiler had it not been for the star in the lead role.

With an extended running time of almost 150 minutes, Etharkkum Thunindavan is an ordeal that wouldn’t end. There is a twist in the end that reveals the identity of the killer, initially thought to be Kannabiran himself, but by then, I wondered if the audience really cared. There is also the teasing reference to a potential sequel that makes a scary thought. One hopes it remains only a thought in the minds of the filmmakers.

Anuj Chakrapani

Anuj Chakrapani loves music and cinema among all art forms. He believes their beauty lies in their interpretation, and that the parts is more than the sum. Anuj lives in the SF Bay Area and works for a...