If good sequels are rare, good sequels to good spoofs are almost unheard of.
CS Amudhan’s Thamizh Padam 2.0 pulls off this feat. Coming eight years after Thamizh Padam (2010), which lampooned cliched plot devices and characters in Tamil cinema, the sequel finds plenty of fresh material to add to the original format.
This time, Amudhan and his hero, Shiva, target police films, one of the most overworked genres in Tamil cinema. It’s a clever choice, considering every A-list male Tamil star has played a policeman at least once in his career. Amudhan, who has also written the film, carefully assembles some of the most outrageous premises and plot twists from famous cop dramas to stitch together a laugh-riot.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Shiva is a pastiche of famous screen cops, from Anbuselvan (Surya) of Kaakha Kaakha (2003) to
2017 film Vivegam’s AK (Ajith Kumar). His adversary, who prefers to be called “P” (Sathish Muthukrishnan), is a similar collage of iconic villains, including the yet-to-be-seen Dr Richard (Akshay Kumar) from Rajinikanth-starrer 2.0, which hits the screens later this year. A cat-and-mouse chase ensues between the two as Amudhan and his crew pull out all the stops to highlight how absurd films of this genre often end up being.
The film opens with the police trying to quell a raging inter-caste conflict in a village. The situation is so out of control that ex-cop Shiva is called in to soothe tempers. He does so by putting all the villagers to sleep with his night-long speech. By morning, the villagers are ready to do anything to get him to stop talking – a jibe at the verbose heroes and villains in this genre.
Shiva’s success prompts his seniors and other villagers to beg him to return to the force. Shiva does so reluctantly, but not before getting his own hilarious opening song, Naan Yaarumillae.
There are the obvious jokes targeted at the writers of the genre (several films by Gautham Menon are referenced) – from the in-born ability of screen cops to spot criminals to the recent trend of moving the action out of Tamil Nadu and into international locales filled with Tamil-speaking foreigners.
Amudhan is bolder with his jokes this time, giving the sequel a slight edge over the original. His satire at times (though not often enough) ventures beyond cinema to target the state and central governments. He ties these into the theme of the film – demonetisation was supposed to unearth all the black money in the country, after all – and though several of these jokes are beeped out, the few that made it past the censors leave us yearning for more. Amudhan also does not spare non-Tamil entertainment, weaving in references to the Baahubali franchise and HBO’s Game of Thrones, among others. The cramming in of so many film references can be tiring for the viewer, but a really good joke every once in a while makes up for that.
The biggest laughs and smartest jokes come from the track about Shiva’s love story. Urged by his friends, Shiva decides he must fall in love with a “loose ponnu” – a reference to the air-headed, wacky and bubbly heroine who is a staple in most male-centric action films. Shiva finds his heroine (played by a brilliant Ishwarya Menon), but Amudhan wonderfully turns the stereotype of the hero’s arm-candy on its head.