Jagame Thandhiram Review: A mismatch gangster drama

Jagame Thandhiram

What’s it about?

Suruli (Dhanushu), a local gangster in Madhurai, is hired by a London mob boss Peter Sprott (James Cosmo) to thwart the plans of Sivadoss (Joju). Sivadoss is also a gangster but he fights for the rights of immigrants and helps them. Peter is using his power to get the BICORE law passed. 

Not knowing Peter’s real game, Suruli decides to take on Sivadoss, despite the latter likes him. Suruli faces a moral dilemma when he falls in love with Srilankan Tamilian immigrant Atlia (Aishwarya Lekshmi).


Which do you call your home in today’s globalized world? The place where you are born or where you eventually end up living or working? Karthik Subbaraj’s new film ‘Jagame Thandhiram’ raises this pertinent question. By end of it, ‘Jagame Thandhiram’ also defines it – “Home isn’t where you are born, it’s where you feel alive.”

Starring Dhanush as the lead hero, the movie addresses this relevant immigrant issue, but this point is wrapped with clothing of the gangster genre. 

The first hour of the movie runs much like a regular gangster drama, and the theme of Srilankan Tamils comes to the fore in the second half, much like an afterthought, or perhaps to provide depth to the protagonist’s character. What should have been the core point gets reduced to a mere subplot and this mismatch has affected the movie’s experience. And seem out of place in a gangster drama. 

The first hour is narrated in a fun manner focussing on Suruli, played by Dhanush, and his street-smart act to rise as a gangster in London. There is a certain style in these proceedings. And like Quentin Tarantino, director Karthik Subbaraj pays tribute to gangster movies like ‘Godfather’, ‘Nayakan’, ‘Dhalapathy’, etc. The interval sequence involving Dhanush, James Cosmo, and Joju George is an homage to the famous restaurant scene of ‘Godfather’. And there are references about the ‘Nayakan’ as well. 

These scenes give joy to a movie buff but a common audience doesn’t feel the same excitement. Still, the first hour’s gangster drama and the final hour’s ‘redemption coupled with immigrant’ issue don’t match at all. 

Gangster movies, most often than not, tread a certain predictable arc. ‘Jagame Thandiram’ doesn’t escape from these clichés, which is why, despite having stylish narration and a terrific Dhanush, it doesn’t make involve us much. 

Coming to the performances, Dhanush has played his part well. It is amazing to see how effortlessly he switches from one character to the other. His Rajinikanth mannerisms have also worked out well. Foreign actor James Cosmo is terrific as well. Joju George as Sivadoss leaves an impression as well. Aishwarya Lekshmi is impressive.

Among the technicians, cinematographer Shreyaas Krishna and music director Santosh Narayan deserve special mention. Shreayaas’ visuals are striking, the color scheme is noticeable. Santosh Narayan renders a terrific background score. 

Karthik Subbaraj once again proves himself as a filmmaker with different sensibilities but he should have worked more on the script.  

‘Jagame Thandhiram’ is currently available on Netflix with Telugu dubbed version as well. It was released directly on Netflix.

Bottom-line: ‘Jagame Thandhiram’ is quite an underwhelming gangster movie though it has terrific visuals and stylish narration. Lengthy runtime coupled with a mismatch of genres has marred the overall experience. 

By: Jalapathy Gudelli

Rating: 2.25/5

Movie: Jagame Thandihram (Telugu Dub)
Cast: Dhanush, Aishwarya Lekshmi, James Cosmo, Joju George 
Produced by: S Sashikanth, Chakravarthy Ramachandra 
Written and directed by: Karthik Subbaraj
Streaming on: Netflix
Release Date: June 18, 2021



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