Dha Dha 87 Review: An earnest story buried in a convoluted mess
The film fails to impress because it is not true to itself and the earnest story it tries to tell.
When I first saw the trailer of Dha Dha 87, I was intrigued. It featured Charuhasan playing an older Sathya (the protagonist from the eponymous 1988 Kamal Haasan film). Janagaraj points out at the beginning that Sathya’s killed two ministers back in the day. That’s how the 1988 film ended. This film is promoted as a ‘spiritual sequel’ with Charuhasan playing the aged version of the role essayed by his brother. The veteran actor gets the epithet, ‘Ageing superstar’, and an introduction song filled with quick cuts goes, “Aandavarukke Annanda” to set the mood that this man is still a force to be reckoned with. Another line in the same song goes, “Aaaradi Aandavan”, but sadly, all these just turn out to be tall claims that are not backed up by the film.
Cast: Charuhasan, Saroja, Anand Pandi, Sri Pallavi, Janagaraj, Kathir
Director: Vijay Sri G
Charuhasan has little to do in Dha Dha 87 except open his eyes wide and project a fearsome demeanour. Camera and editing tricks work well in hiding his stuttering walk and dialogue delivery, but after a point, you begin to understand that the actor and his character are nothing more than a gimmick aimed at bringing the audience into the theatres. Also, there is little to no use for the whole caste and political angle in the film, which doesn’t seem to serve any purpose other than give the director space to grandstand with his messaging. That this occupies nearly half of the film’s 140 minutes runtime is simply not justifiable.
What we could have done with instead is more of the love story of Jail Pandi (Anand Pandi) and Jeni (Sri Pallavi). Pandi is an unemployed youth in what appears to be a slum housing board area and his character is that of a problematic person who keeps following a girl forever till she reciprocates his love for her. The director, however, is sensitive enough to not glorify this and even delivers a sucker punch when Jeni enters his life. What follows is the emotional story arc of Jeni, her feelings, the truth in Pandi’s love and whether love is what it seems to be.
Amongst the cast, Sri Pallavi is particularly noteworthy. She carries both the intense and playful parts really well, and it would be interesting to see what future projects this actor takes up. Another bright spot is Kathir, who plays Pandi’s friend, Muttai, whose jokes don’t all land but this fits in with his character. Music directors Leander Lee Marty, Al Rufan and Deepan Chakravarthy deliver a couple of really nice songs and their background music in the second half really helps elevate the film.
But, these few redeeming points notwithstanding, the film fails to impress. Instead, Dha Dha 87 ends up as just another needle in the evergrowing haystack that is middling Tamil cinema.