Theru Naaigal (Eng: Street Dogs) is a 2017 Indian Tamil action drama film written and directed by S. Hari Uthraa. The film features Pratheek and Akshatha Sreedhar in the lead roles, with an ensemble cast of actors including Appukutty, Imman Annachi, Pavel Navageethan, Madhu Soodhanan and Mime Gopi in pivotal roles. The film began production during mid-2016 and was released on 22 September 2017 to mixed review from critics.
For almost the entire first half of Theru Naaigal, we are in a state of confusion over what is happening and why. In the opening scene, we see a group of young men break into a school, and being stopped on their way back by Marudhamuthu, a cop on patrol. The narrative then jumps to Chokkalingam, the incumbent MLA who is now awaiting an election result, and his bitter rivalry with Settu, a bigshot in the town. There is also an episode involving Kumar, one of the youngsters, being rounded up by cops who are planning an encounter.
On the screen, we keep getting visual information in the form of dates — from the events that happened on May 26 to the events of a few days prior to and after that day.
And gradually, director Hari Uthara starts filling us in with the missing pieces. This use of fractured timelines is what makes Theru Naaigal, which you realise is a vigilante story, different from the umpteen ones we have seen till date. This approach keeps us guessing about what is at play and what is at stake, and the film remains engaging for the most parts. The moody cinematography of Thalapathy Rathnam also gives the film a certain rawness that works to its advantage, although, the use of frequent slow-motion shots becomes tiring after a point.
What stops the film from being truly good is the flashback portion that is a bit too long and digresses a little to include a romantic track, which seems to have been added on as a compromise. This episode, which is centred around a restrained Imman Annachi, should have been a moving moment, but we never feel strongly about what happens here. And a couple of comedy scenes involving Appukutty kills the mood. Still, as a debut film, Theru Naaigal manages to be a minor success.
Directed by S. Hari Uthraa
Produced by Sushil Kumar Jain
Starring Prateek, Akshatha Sreedhar, Appukutty, Imman Annachi, Mime Gopi
Music by Harish—Satish
Cinematography Thalapathy Rathinam
Edited by Meenatchy Sundar
Production Shree Bhuwal Movie Productions & I Creations
Release date 22 September 2017