Savarakathi (Eng: Straight Razor) is a 2018 Tamil black comedy drama film directed by G. R. Adithya, written and produced by his brother Mysskin. The film stars Ram, Mysskin and Shamna Kasim in the lead roles. Featuring music composed by Arrol Corelli, the film began production during November 2015, and was released across India on 9 February 2018.
Mysskin has become synonymous with moody crime thrillers that are more about the people who commit those crimes and the ones affected by it. But, in Savarakathi, which he has written (he has handed over the direction duties to Aadithyaa, his brother), he shows us a different side — a comic side that we have seen only in brief flashes in his films so far. The film could have been a thriller, but Mysskin turns into a black comedy, and thus, makes it distinctive.
The film begins with Pichaimoorthy (Ram), a barber, being forced by his wife, Subathra (Poorna), to accompany her and their two kids, to meet her brother, Raghu, who has eloped with a girl. They need to get the two of them married before the girl’s rich parents can stop it. However, en route, Pichai gets into a skirmish with Manga (Mysskin), a gangster who has to go to prison by that evening. An enraged Manga swears that he will chop off the former’s limb by sundown. Can Pichai save himself?
There has been a touch of the theatrical in Mysskin’s characters, and in Savarakathi, he takes it up a notch by giving us characters who are way over the top. Aadithyaa understand this and never reins in his performers, who come up with suitably heightened performances that enhance the comic effect in the scenes. Ram convincingly shows us the haplessness of Pichai (he is a barber who still uses the knife and as a character remarks, still does hairstyle like Rayil Payanangalil Shankar) while Mysskin portrays Manga as someone who is both funny and terrifying because of how unpredictable he is. For Poorna, it is definitely her first challenging role in Tamil cinema, and the actress (who has dubbed for herself) is impressive as the dyspeptic wife with a hearing impairment.
For much of the film, Aadithyaa keeps us laughing with the situations getting more absurd as the film progresses. The pace is quite breathless, befitting a film that is essentially one long chase, and the humour is often of the laugh-out-loud variety but at times, quite subtle, like in the scene where Manga keeps staring at a woman who is wearing, of all things, a yellow sari! Then, there is the scatological humour that is as uninhibited as it can be in a ‘U’-certified film. One of Manga’s underlings gets bitten in his crotch, Subathra keeps referring to her husband as “Oata Kundi”, though the latter word is, unfortunately, beeped out… Not to forget one of the best lines in the film, “Enna dhaan rocket vittaalum, kaiyaala dhaan kazhuvanum”!
It is only in the final few minutes that the tone changes — and quite abruptly, at that. It is definitely disorienting, for all this while, we have been asked to laugh at these characters and now, the film wants us to empathise with them. Having played out as a black comedy until then, the film suddenly decides that it doesn’t have any further use for comedy and trades it for pathos. But we do get a couple of Mysskin touches, like the one involving a cycle shop owner and Pichai. And the melodrama — a labour pain, a father embarrassed before his little son — in these scenes, which is heightened by Arrol Corelli’s overwrought score, feels very much part of the film’s universe.
Directed by G. R. Adithya
Produced by Mysskin
Written by Mysskin
Starring Ram, Mysskin, Poorna
Music by Arrol Corelli
Cinematography Karthik Venkatraman
Edited by S. Julian
Production Lonewolf Productions
Release date 9 February 2018