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Monday, September 20, 2021

‘Dikkiloona’ movie review: Santhanam’s comedy asks us to suspend disbelief, and our sense of humour


Karthik Yogi squanders an excellent setup for a madcap comedy with ineffective writing and some problematic social commentary

Props to the director Karthik Yogi for coming up with an apt title for his film. It’s from a game that Babloo (Senthil) invented in Gentleman. When he tries to play ‘Dikkiloona’ (where you have to move backwards and collide another person’s butt with yours; if you know, you know) with Mani (Goundamani), he gets a kick in his rear. Yogi, in his film Dikkiloona, also talks about the ramifications of a guy who moves backwards… in time.

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Unfortunately, there’s little else to applaud about the film apart from its title. The setup is excellent for a madcap comedy: a man, who’s frustrated with his life (especially with his wife) gets an opportunity to go back in time to stop his marriage. The resultant absurdities and conflicts are supposed to spark, burst, and produce brilliant flashes like fireworks in the night sky. But they merely flicker like a tube light on low-voltage electricity.

Mani (Santhanam), who works as a lineman in the electricity board, causes an accident that gets a time machine working in 2027. The scientists developed it to prevent crimes. Mani, who probably thinks his marriage to Priya (Anagha LK) is a crime he committed upon himself, goes back seven years to stop it.

Time travel is complex. Usually, films have a scientist explaining how it works, which can sometimes lead to more confusion (*cough* Tenet) But you won’t have such issues with Dikkiloona because we have Albert Einstein (Yogi Babu) himself spelling out the formula for time travel! (Read till the end of the article if you want to know*)

The film thankfully doesn’t overdo the future with ridiculous gadgets. Yogi is aware that it’s just six years ahead of our present. But he could have been a little more creative with the future. If the Back to the Future series showed us a flying car, Dikkiloona shows us ‘Elite Tasmac Bar’, wherein the alcohol is free, but a water bottle costs Rs 2,500!

Dikkiloona

  • Director: Karthik Yogi
  • Cast: Santhanam, Anagha LK, Shirin Kanchwala, Yogi Babu, and Harbhajan Singh (in a cameo)
  • Duration: 2 hr 24 min
  • Storyline: The repercussions of a man travelling back in time to stop his wedding

The film’s second half has more social commentary, especially on women. Mani goes back in time and alters his present, where he is married to another woman who likes him. This woman, unlike Priya, doesn’t nag him. But he soon finds out that she is worse. She is a “modern ponnu”. She drinks, parties through the night and wears a figure-hugging dress and stilettos to temples. She has a “boy bestie” with whom she does “Bit Tok” videos.

Mani, after a point, is unable to tolerate her and leaves her… but not before mansplaining concepts like decency and freedom. Sample: “Freedom is not living as you like; it’s living in a way that’s accepted by others.” In a way, this too is time travel. When Tamil cinema is treating women empowerment as the in-thing, Dikkiloona reminds us of the times when our heroes used to teach women lessons… on how to be a woman.

If the serious lines are problematic, the comical ones are, well, mostly not comical. Case in point: “Ennadhu, idhu time machine ah? Time paaka edhukku ivalo periya machine?”

Santhanam employs his usual brand of insult comedy. He calls the other characters, “thavalakotta vaaya”, “kung fu panda”, “customs la maatna aamai” and other things. But they fail to evoke even a chuckle. The supporting characters (including Motta Rajendran, Munishkanth, Anandraj, Nizhalgal Ravi, Sha Ra) too fail to entertain, though Yogi Babu delivers a few funny lines. Oh, also cricketer Harbhajan Singh plays a cameo. Fortunately, it’s just a cameo.

The Per Vechaalum song from the legendary Michael Madana Kama Rajan seems to be reused as some sort of a tribute. In this version too, a guy is carrying a piece of log to knock another man out. Maybe they should have instead thrown in four time-travelling Santhanams trying to get rid of one another? The original is rife with comical events accentuated by superb acting and brilliant choreography. This one too tries to be funny, but falls short.

There are quite a few logical loopholes too. But let’s not get into that. For, we can suspend disbelief in a sci-fi comedy… but should we suspend our sense of humour, too?

* Thanks for reading till the end. Here’s the time travel formula: (43^2)+a*f->Rain effect->2+tyre+forest fire->EPS->(Over Build^2)->ATB->TN2020+Speed of light = zero dynamic pressure. This is still simpler than Tenet, no?

Dikkiloona is currently streaming on Zee 5

 



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