'Jigarthanda DoubleX', produced by Kaarthekeyen Santhanam, S Kathiresan, and Alankar Pandian, was released in theatres on November 10.
The story is set in the 1970s. Allius Caeser (Raghava Lawrence) is a Kurnool-based gangster who admires the work of Clint Eastwood. Ray Dasan (SJ Suryah) approaches him by lying that he is a Satyajit Ray disciple. The truth unknown to Caeser is that Ray has been deployed by a cop for an ulterior motive. In the process, Ray realizes that binaries are half-truths and that there is more to Caesar's gangsterism than meets the eye.
Many cinephiles have been contending that Raghava Lawrence's presence in the film diluted their enthusiasm for it. His poor choices have contributed immensely to him being written off. Yet, Lawrence proves his critics wrong and royally so! His performance elevates even a few poorly-etched scenes in 'Jigarthanda DoubleX'. If you walk in expecting quirks from SJ Suryah, you will be disappointed. After the initial episodes, the film increasingly loses its comical flavour and turns serious. And, in step with the changing nature of the script, Suryah, too, changes his style.
Shine Tom Chacko and Naveen Chandra, respectively, play a movie superstar and a volatile cop. Both shine in their respective roles, with wrath and ambition writ large on their faces.
Santhosh Narayanan's music has been overrated at times. In the film under review, he does uninspired music that, fortunately, doesn't test your patience. S Thirunavukkarasu's cinematography is average. The 'Janatha Garage' talent doesn't add frills. Shafique Mohamed Ali's editing is not sharp.
Director Karthik Subbaraj essentially makes a Tamil film that was intended to please the Tamil audience more than the Telugu audience. The commentary on the tribal way of life is political. Rarely have such tangentially political films done well in Telugu, especially those with a pronounced Tamil nativity. Yet, the film's collections have been incrementally growing at the Telugu box office.
Does this mean that the audience are loving the style factor? The film's superiority lies in its interesting premise and in how it evolves into a drama. This is a far cry from 'Chandramukhi 2' being a stale repetition of 'Chandramukhi'. This is where a filmmaker who is attuned to contemporary trends and tastes understands. P Vasu of 'Chandramukhi' 2 is a veteran who rested on laurels. In contrast, Subbaraj is a hungry, young filmmaker who merely used the premise of 'Jigarthanda' (2014) and went on to weave a new story altogether.
It is also commendable that the film's trailer didn't reveal anything about the tribal element. Even the nature and tonality of Raghava Lawrence's character were kept under wraps. This has served the makers well.
'Jigarthanda DoubleX' comes with imperfect execution. However, the performances and the storyline are compelling.