A dead elephant comes on the screen in the beginning. As the saying goes, a dead elephant is worth lakhs; In the same way, people grabbed money from the dead elephant of the screen. The elephant was then left to rot. The police are scrambling around the rotting elephant, who can be held responsible! The beginning is a bloodbath. Human and elephant blood mixed on the forest floor.
I am talking about the new movie ‘Jigarthanda DoubleX’ in Tamil language of India. The film is available on global OTT platform Netflix. It was recently released. Yes, that’s right, there is no big fuss about this film. Whether it was a record opening day at the box office, or a three-day gross of Rs 300 crore—there is no discussion about that either. Rather, hearing the name of the film, many may frown. When the name ‘Jigarthanda DoubleX’ is mentioned, it’s natural for the global audience to cringe a bit.
So the film has been promoted by word of mouth. The viewership of those people or the film is also insignificant compared to the massive viewership of ‘Pathan’, ‘Jawan’ or ‘Animal’. There are no big names like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan or Ranbir Kapoor in the list of actors. As a result, ‘Jigarthanda DoubleX’ was a bit behind in the promotion. However, even if you sit down to watch, you have to get stuck in front of the screen. Then it was understood why this movie was given the title ‘Masterpiece’ by a person on Google Review!
The story of the film goes into a completely different genre by showing the reality of one class of people in a remote part of the country being fed to another class (administratively ruling) people. The power struggle of an urban-centric civilization floats on the screen. It has politics, bragging about muscle power. And there is the story of ordinary people’s very ordinary dreams falling into two pieces. That too by being a victim of other’s unjust interests. At this time, ‘Jigarthanda DoubleX’ will seem like a region we know is being run by the once wild rules of the western country. At the same time, the idea became stronger with the widespread use of the name of Clint Eastwood, one of the actors of Hollywood’s western genre.
Mardanga action, sending people flying away with a single punch or a light kick from the lead character and the familiar use of catchy dance-songs make ‘Jigarthanda DoubleX’ at this stage difficult to distinguish from the familiar masala movie tropes. At the same time, there was the apparent whimsical element of making a movie about the latent desire for assassination. As a result, any viewer may feel that, what are you watching!
The film’s director and story creator, Karthik Subbaraj, dispelled this sentiment within minutes of its creation. He has taken the story of the movie to a point where you have to say, ‘Arreh bah!’ Because the car’s face suddenly turns completely and drives parallel in the opposite lane is the result of the driver’s negligence. In these cases, the buck does not die in the storm, and the fakir does not get a chance to show his magic.
The way the story goes after Uturn, there is step by step deprivation, there is exploitation. There is a repetition of the partition and eviction rules passed by the British. How we try to uproot the people who have become a part of nature like cutting weeds, how politics remains only for the king with a great disregard for the subjects – ‘Jigarthanda Doublex’ shows with a finger in the eye. In the end, the ‘cinema’ itself begins to pay for all this. Clint Eastwood’s hand-held camera becomes a bigger weapon than a bullet-bomb.
In short, after ‘Super Deluxe’ and ‘Kantara’, another new genre of storytelling has been seen in ‘Jigarthanda DoubleX’. The film, set in the context of the seventies of the last century, shows the audience a new depiction of a familiar and cruel reality. In it, the established rules of storytelling are given a thumbs up and the new trend is made with skillful skill. ‘Jigarthanda DoubleX’ is a remarkable addition not only to Indian cinema, but to the cinema world of the entire subcontinent. It goes without saying. Some may object to such a term. In that case, it must be remembered that it is not an easy task to show the bitter truth so clearly in today’s highly authoritarian world.
It has already been said that this movie does not have the names of huge stars or superstars in its cast. Raghav Lawrence and SJ Suriah are in the lead roles. Raghav is great as a gangster. The same assessment has to be made in the case of SJ Suriya. It’s really hard to imagine anyone else in the role of these two. Nimisha Sajayan and Tom Chacko gave worthy support in other roles. Naveen Chandra has shown extraordinary skills in the role of Khal. All in all, in ‘Jigarthanda DoubleX’, there is no shortcoming in the performance of the artists. Only a very skillfully scripted script can do that.
When it comes to the screenplay, the director and story writer Karthik Subbaraj has to be praised. Karthik’s film is a prequel to his 2014 film Jigarthanda. As such ‘Jigarthanda DoubleX’ is truly double in every way. Karthik has said in various interviews that apart from highlighting the power of cinema as a medium, he paid homage to legendary director Satyajit Ray and famous Hollywood actor-producer Clint Eastwood with the film ‘Jigarthanda DoubleX’. Interestingly, the origin of the extremely popular Indian actor Rajinikanth has also come to this film.
At the very last scene, the director gave a message to the audience. That is the announcement of triplex coming after double. It remains to be seen if Triple gives the same thrill to the audience as DoubleX. If so, maybe the award of the best movie of the coming year will also go to the house of ‘Jigarthanda’!
Director: Karthik Subbaraj
Story & Screenplay: Karthik Subbaraj
Starring: Raghav Lawrence, SJ Suriah, Naveen Chandra, Nimisha Sajayan, Tom Chacko etc.
Released: 8 December 2023/Netflix
Author: Journalist and film critic