Deeraj Vaidy’s Jil Jung Juk is the kind of movie where an action scene is set to a hopped-up version of Nee maatale maayanura. The song is Poorvikalyani on acid; the film is everything on acid. Which probably explains Jil’s (Siddharth) peacock-shaded hair, and the predominance of a colour that’s surely the result of a one-night stand between cotton candy and a vial of Potassium Permanganate. We see this colour in the Bond-style opening credits, on a car, and in the lighting in a song sequence. Why, you ask? This isn’t about meaning. It’s about mood. It’s about quirk, attitude. It’s about Pai (Bipin) affecting the Whatsapp Swamiji’s hysterical tone. It’s about a Tamannaah-Hansika-type starlet named Sonu Sawant being introduced with this legend: And the award for best North Indian heroine playing bubbly South Indian girl goes to… Something about that name is hilarious. Every time someone said “Sonu Sawant,” I cracked up. And in a genius stretch, Sonu Sawant slips into the role of a television cookery-show hostess and, in chaste broken Tamil, outlines Jil’s criminal plan as if outlining a recipe – each step of the plan becomes an “ingredient” of the recipe. It’s the most ingenious thing I’ve seen since the Su Su Sundaralingam mashup in Vaayai Moodi Pesavum.
But the film, a road movie revolving around the drug trade in 2020, isn’t consistent. It’s a lawless world, people will do anything for money – sounds an awful lot like 2o16. Which is another way of saying that the film could have been set in 2016, but where’s the cool quotient in that? Quirk works best as flavouring; here it is the main dish. One character comes with the name Attack. Another is called Rolex Rawther. There’s animation. There’s that mesh effect from older comic books. Some of this works. I loved the touch of locations being named not via text at the bottom of the screen but through picture postcards bearing the names. “Deiva’s House… Deivaa Voodu.” But by the time a cop appeared with a hand camera, recording his observations in pulp-novel purple prose, I began to disengage. Vishal Chandrasekhar’s score is a metaphor for the movie. It’s terrific (as standalone music), but it also tries terrifically hard to set up each scene as cool and wacky – there’s just no variation. It’s like a wardrobe filled with Bappi Lahiri’s suits. After a while, you just want a pair of jeans.
There’s no denying how in-sync the collaborators are, and you appreciate the arrow-straight narrative – no comedy track, no romance. The dialogues are stuffed with mischievous wordplay. (“Ivanga mela naan ‘gun’ vachirukken.” And in a scene with Nasser, “Vaada en thevar magane.”) The writing is pretty solid too – seemingly inconsequential asides (a character’s interest in world cinema, a mention about cheerleaders, a reference to someone’s father) return in the form of lip-smacking payoffs. The cast (including Avinash Raghudevan’s Jung, Sananth Reddy’s Juk) is game. But the film keeps you at an arm’s length. No one seems to be in any real danger. Even the villains are buffoons – and we stop caring. The final stretch is especially tedious. (That skeleton… Really?) The bits don’t add up to an acid-trip whole. And why is the butterfly effect invoked here? If a butterfly flaps its wings in a Kodambakkam studio, will the Sathyam theatre audience laugh?
- Nee maatale maayanura = see here
- Su Su Sundaralingam mashup = see here
- Ivanga mela naan ‘gun’ vachirukken = I have a gun on them.
- Vaada en thevar magane = Nasser’s line from Thevar Magan
Copyright ©2016 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.