A smart writing and intriguing set of characters required for a compelling political thriller in the first half is slightly let down in the second half.
A still from the film
An aspiring politician, who gradually wins the trust of a local politician using smart tactics, grows leaps and bounds in no time. However, a series of unexpected situations force him to lock horns with the latter. But little did he know that his decision to turn against his mentor would pose threat to his life.
The trailer and a few promos of Tughlaq Durbar, which were released by the makers, hinted at a political thriller in the offing. Delhiprasad Deenadayal takes a potshot at those politicians who offer freebies to people when election is just around the corner and work with a selfish motive to ensure the prosperity of their respective caste groups. Kollywood has had a few gripping political thrillers which are narrated with a tinge of humour, and Tughlaq Durbar is the latest to the join the bandwagon.
Singaravelan aka Singam (Vijay Sethupathi) is someone who nurtures the dream to become a politician from his childhood. After growing up, he decides to earn the trust of Rayappan (Parthiban) a local politician of the ruling party, to foray into politics and develop a career. His enthusiasm and smart strategies make him a darling to Rayappan in no time. This irks Mangalam (Bagavathi Perumal), who has been a trustworthy person to Rayappan from a long time. At a party, Mangalam hits Singam on his head with a beer bottle out of his jealousy towards him, and Rayappan expels him from the party.
Singam, who is chosen as the contestant of the party for area councillor, defeats Mangalam by a comfortable margin after weeks of rigorous campaigning. However, Singam gradually realizes that he has developed a split-personality of sorts, thanks to the severity with which Mangalam had attacked him on his head at the party a while ago. His strange behaviour lands him in trouble a few times, and his over ambitious nature eventually makes him selfish, which makes his condition worse. His ineffectiveness in dealing a multi-crore business with a corporate firm to evict a land makes Rayappan furious.
Meanwhile, Singam starts unleashing the devilish side of his, which is new for him as well. His sister Manimekalai (Manjima Mohan) and lady love Kamatchi (Raashi Khanna) starts ignoring him after knowing that he has become a self-obsessed politician who has no qualms in stooping low for his selfish needs. A series of unexpected situations make Singam lock horns with Rayappan. But little did he know that his decision to turn against his mentor would pose threat to his life. What will happen to Singam's political career and life after Rayappan decides to finish him off?
Vijay Sethupathi carries the film on his shoulders for most of its portions. The film is in safe hands of Parthiban in scenes that do not feature Sethupathi. Unlike regular political potboilers, it is interesting to see a protagonist who has ample grey shades to him, indulging in things which make the viewers dislike him. Sethupathi portrays the ambitious politician with little ethics and an unusual disease to deal with convincingly, while Karunakaran, who is seen as his aide throughout the film, is apt in his role.
Parthiban's character, that of a cunning politician, who deasls complex situations with humour, reminds of the role he pulled off effortlessly in Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, which had Sethupathi as the hero. A film like Tughlaq Durbar proves how a seasoned actor like him could make even okayish scenes enjoyable. His performance and conversation with Sathyaraj in the climax scene is hilarious. The reference to Amaidhi Padai and popular dialogue oru kadhai sollattuma from Vikram Vedha are entertaining.
Raashi Khanna and Manjima have only a little do in their roles which aren't written quite engagingly. Bagavathi Perumal, too, impresses as the opportunist politician and his chemistry with Sethupathi, once again entertains the viewers. Govind Vasantha's background score helps some of the scenes to stand out.
On the down side, the film, which had ample scope for being a gripping thriller, loses steam after a point, which affects its overall flow. The sequences then become predictable, and the suspense factor which works in the first half goes for a toss in the latter half. A lot more drama in the latter half and doing away of done-to-death scene which leads to redemption of the protagonist could have made the movie more enjoyable.
Tughlaq Durbar is a watchable fare, thanks to the performances of Vijay Sethupathi and Parthiban. A smart writing and intriguing set of characters required for a compelling political thriller in the first half is slightly let down in the second half.
Tughlaq Durbar is streaming on Netflix.