Readers Write In #358: Retro Movie Review: Thiruda Thiruda

Posted on May 2, 2021

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(by R. Kailasham)

This is a heist movie set in 1993, and it is the way in which the story is narrated, rather than the story itself, which moved me to pen this review. The musical reverberations of the album continue to echo even now. It has an equally profound cinematic influence, as described below.

The two Thirudas (thieves) that appear in the movie title are Kadhir (played by Anand) and Azhagu (Prashanth). Their small-time-thieving lives soon cross paths with the money trail left behind by an internationally motivated con-job executed in India. Kathir and Azhagu rescue Rasathi (Heera) from committing suicide and the trio are continuously on the move for one good reason or several, as becomes apparent from the picture. Chandralekha (Anu Aggarwal), a pop star, joins and drifts away from the gang of three as the movie progresses. Hot on the trail of this entourage are terrorists, cops, and intelligence officers.

The stolen pile of cash remains the focus throughout the film, even as Azhagu develops feelings for Rasathi, and R. grows fond of Kadhir. Maniratnam’s deft touch ensures that nowhere in the movie is a confrontation regarding who chooses whom, and the tension remains unresolved even by the end of the picture. Did Thiruda Thiruda inspire Kaadhal Desam?

thiruda thiruda

There are major stunt sequences shot atop a moving train. Surely, choreographing this must have been more challenging than choreographing dance moves on a mobile locomotive? Did Thiruda Thiruda anticipate Uyire?

There is a song sequence wherein Rasathi, Azhagu, and Kadhir imagine what they would do with the stash of cash that has briefly come into their possession. Starting with the lines Putham Puthu Boomi Vaendum (Need a brand-new world), the song then goes on to list several other things they wish for. Situations like these probably represent a free-hit for the lyricist because they could really channel and verbalize their personal wishes and aspirations for a new world, through the on-screen characters. I would consider that Chinna Chinna Aasai was a prelude to Putham Puthu, which in turn would culminate in Satham Illatha Thanimai Kaettaen. These three songs seem to be cut from the same fabric, and Vairamuthu’s signature is writ large across them all.

There is a scene where the CBI top gun, Lakshminarayanan (S.P.B), is deep in discussion with Madan Bob and Thaivasal Vijay about tracking the stolen money. Madan Bob mechanically pulls out a cigarette and starts puffing and thinking, saying that he needs the nicotine to sharpen his mind. S.P.B chides him and orders that he put the cigarette away, citing cancer. In an era when cigarette-smoking was glorified across silver screens, this one scene from Thiruda Thiruda says a lot.

The dialogues in the movie are handled by the late great engineer Sujatha and Suhasini. An unlikely duo. Readers of Sujatha novels would find it easy enough to discern which portions were written by him.

Rahman’s music score is a veritable member of the movie’s cast. Veerapandi Kottayilae is arguably the best song in the movie, with Konjam Nilavu trailing closely in second place. Annupamaa’s vocals mingle seamlessly with the pictured pyrotechnics and visuals of the song, simultaneously highlighting the skills of the cinematographer (P.C. Sriram) and the choreographer (Sundaram and sons).

Thiruda Thiruda is a fantastical movie with probably zero take-home messages. There is nothing formulaic about this movie, and neither did this help in defining a formula for future films. One memory from the movie, though, lingers indelibly. Chandralekha surely deserves her place amongst the pantheon of great and inimitable female characters in Tamil cinema. Chandralekha. Nilambari. Sornakka. Jessie. Never before. Probably never again.