An amazing number of youngsters just getting into their twenties are taking to filmmaking in Kollywood, bringing with them different subjects and styles of presentations. '8 Thottakkal' too is by a predominantly young team who have tried to deal with what happens when a loaded police gun with eight bullets lands in the wrong hands.
Sathya (Vettri) is wrongly accused of a murder and spends time in a juvenile home and ends up becoming a cop a profession he is indifferent to. He is attracted to a young journalist Meera Vasudevan (Aparna Balamurali) who takes up a fight with the station, Inspector Guna (Mime Gopi) who does an injustice to an elderly typist (R.S. Sivaji). Sathya who usually spends his days in the station is put on a mission by Guna during which he is robbed of his loaded gun by a juvenile criminal. Sathya is given twenty four hours time to get back his gun by the inspector and when he fails he is suspended and senior cop Pandian (Nasser) takes up the case. Meanwhile an elderly man Murthy (M. S. Bhaskar) gets hold of the gun and uses it to rob a bank ingeniously. Who is Murthy and how can a common man be so meticulous in his planning of the crime are some of the interesting questions that are posed and answered in the end.
M.S. Bhaskar takes the honors in the acting department initially as a ruthless burglar who controls his henchmen with an iron hand and later on coming across as a man in despair which is quite new to Tamil cinema. Hope this great actor gets his due. Vettri as Sathya with a deadpan expression suits the role of an uninterested junior cop and so is Aparna Balamurali as the journalist whose character has some depth. The role of the assured senior pro is not something new for Nasser and he does it with his usual almost dismissive manner. Mime Gopi as the twisted cop Guna, Charles Vinod as the gangster and R. S. Sivaji as the elderly typist have put in remarkable performances. Manikandan who has played Jai the accomplice of Bhaskar deserves special mention for expressing lust, respect, greediness and guilt in a very convincing manner. All the other performers have done a uniformly good job.
With R. S. Sivaji's scene in the beginning and the entire sequences involving M. S. Bhaskar the young writer director has posted a shout out for the need to respect the elderly, which is highly laudable in the times when most other filmmakers glorify disrespecting the older generation. Clever parallels are drawn between characters like the hero Sathya and the juvenile boy who robs the gun, the accidental shooting and killing of a small girl by Bhaskar which rebounds and happens to him in the climax and the romance between the leads who are drawn to each other due to the similarities in their personal lives. There is no comedy track, but a subplot involving a gangster, played by Charles Vinod, his wife and his trusted lieutenant (Manikandan) brings the house down.
On the downside the gun reaching the wrong hands should have taken the viewer to the edge of the seat, but it's traveling from one hand to another and ending up with Bhaskar does not have the necessary impact. Post interval, although the build up about the motive for Bhaskar's crime and killings sustain interest the final reveal is a big letdown. The long drawn out monologue by Bhaskar in the pre-climax is so long drawn out that the emotions are completely stripped off and instead a long yawn finds its way into most of the audience's mouths. And it doesn’t stop there as again in the climax there is more such endless expositions mouthed by Bhaskar that sadly kill the effectiveness of his well enacted character. From the audience point of view it is difficult to follow the hero as there is nothing at stake for him whether the gun is found or not. On the other hand if one chooses to root for the antagonist M S Bhaskar (the real protoganist in this case) that is also not easy as his motives for the killings and robbery are weak to say the least
Songs by Sundaramurthy K.S. are good to listen to but are totally misplaced in the narration while his background score passes muster. Camera by Dinesh K Babu, editing by Nagooran, and art by Satheesh Kumar jointly help hold the film as a watchable fare.
Sri Ganesh has put up a list of the films that inspired him, including Mysskin's 'Anjathey' and 'Yuttham Sei' along with other foreign films by the likes of Akira Kurosawa. Those films were different from the run of the mill, but also in their own rights highly engaging with some entertaining elements thrown in. It is unfortunate that Sri Ganesh's '8 Thottakkal' is neither here nor there, but with the promise shown he is definitely one to watch out for in the future.
Verdict: Go for it if you are a fan of new age films and can withstand some patience testing sequences.