Dhanush’s Prabhu Solomon-directed Thodari is said to be the first Tamil film set entirely in a running train.
The trouble with this film, however, is that it moves like a local passenger train — hampered by too many stops and a running time of 2 hours and 48 minutes!
Poochiappan (Dhanush) is a pantry boy in a super fast express from New Delhi to Chennai. Saroja (Keerthi Suresh) works as the touch-up girl of a top actress who is travelling in the first class coach of the train along with other members of her entourage. (Side note: Which actor would even travel in a train today?)
Our hero — egged on by the pantry car supervisor (Thambi Ramaiah) and his comic friends — falls in love with the innocent Saroja (a typical loosu ponnu heroine). But soon, from a rom com, the film changes track and becomes a Hollywood-style disaster film. Can our hero and heroine save the life of the 700-odd passengers travelling in this unstoppable train hurtling towards imminent danger and destruction?
Till the interval, the film merely chugs along, depending on tasteless comedy and silly romance, including a song atop the running train. The characterisation is so weak with far too many plot holes and meaningless lengthy dialogues. For instance, one cannot fathom why the negative character — a security officer (Harish Uthaman) to a minister, who has an anger problem (his mother tells him over the phone to take his pills) — picks a fight with the hero? The director also unnecessarily creates interstate rivalry in his dialogues.
However post-interval the plot literally picks up speed after the engine driver has a heart attack and the driver-less train hurtles along the tracks. The film’s special effects are tacky and the VFX sticks out like a sore thumb. Most of the train shots have been done in a Chennai studio. More than 25 years ago, the Delhi-Chennai trunk route had been electrified but the director has used an old diesel engine for his "super fast" express train. All the characters in the film including a union minister (Radha Ravi is fantastic) lack conviction.
The saving grace of the film is Dhanush who makes even the dumbest of scripts come alive with his laidback natural style — whether he is enacting comedy or romance. Keerthi Suresh — without any make-up — is terrific. The songs of D Imman are hummable, but the placement is bad and hampers the proceedings.
Dhanush needs to give a little more thought to his choice of scripts. On the whole, Thodari leaves you as exasperated as an overnight train journey in an overcrowded, unreserved compartment.