Tuesday Tamil: Sarkar Review (No Spoilers), Tamil Nadu Has an Embarrassing Crush on Corporate Raiders

I did it!  A two movie week!  So I was able to see both the northern and southern big Diwali release.  And although I really didn’t like the Hindi film, I didn’t like the Tamil film EVEN MORE.

Years ago when I was in high school, we went over to a party at a family friend’s house and in about 5 minutes of the arrival I realized that one of the fellow guests, a girl about my age, had a massive crush on the hostess’ son.  He was shockingly handsome and charming (like, he literally has strange women come up to him in restaurants and give him their phone number to this day).  But he was also, you know, him!  The kid I’d known since he was 2 years old, who used to have tantrums in the grocery store, who did stupid things that made his mother roll her eyes, who I knew far too well to ever think he was anything more than just an average teenage boy.  And so watching this little 13 year old girl make big eyes at him like she thought he was wonderful and perfect instead of dopey and stupid was just SO EMBARRASSING.  I was cringing in sympathy the whole time, and desperate to take her aside and say “you’re better than this!  Don’t build your life around this idiot boy!  Go to school, read, be smart!”  Anyway, that’s what it is like watching this movie.  With Tamil Nadu as the 13 year old girl who could do so much better, and Western corporate culture as the idiot boy they have an embarrassing obvious crush on because they don’t know how stupid he is.

Image result for sarkar tamil poster

(Oooo, he has a Mac!  He must be better than us!)

I’m fine with having a crush on Vijay.  He’s cute, he can dance, he seems fairly smart, no problem with building him up as a hero.  It’s the kind of hero he is, heroic because he is an American CEO, a corporate raider, and therefore clearly the smartest strongest person in the WORLD, and the pride of Tamil Nadu.  Corporate raiders may be smart, in their own limited way, but really what they are is sociopaths.  Meaning, they don’t care about people or long term consequences.  It’s all short term power trips.  And short term power trips are like cute teenage boys, very effective and romantic for short periods and then later you are terrible embarrassed for finding them attractive.  Tamil Nadu can, and should, want to do much better for itself.

So, yeah, did not love this movie.  The basic premise fails utterly for me, I don’t think Vijay’s character is interesting or heroic, I think he is a selfish idiot who could solve most of the problems of Tamil Nadu far more effectively through simple business practices than through politics.  And in fact he probably caused most of the problems of Tamil Nadu through his shadey business practices and business practices of others like him.

Let’s see, what else fails?  Well, Vijay a little bit.  Like I said, he’s cute and all.  But this is definitely one of those movies for people who are already his fans, not for ones trying to become his fans.  His character has no growth, no moments of weakness or doubt, nothing that really makes him seem human.  It’s just Vijay being awesome in a variety of colors.  Which, again, I would be able to handle if the rest of the plot was less irritating.

(See?  He is corporate, but can also use Tamil slang, because he is the perfect man in every way)

The heroine is a big zero for me.  Keerthy Suresh does not impress in her second film.  It’s all tricks and smiles, I never get a feeling of a real person.  Of course, the character is terrible too.  She is introduced already with a crush on Vijay, no further explanation of why she likes him or why he likes her back or anything.  I understand Murugadoss does not like putting in romances, but he’s not incapable of it.  Thuppaki has a decent romance, I loved the romance in Akira.  It was barely there, but it was good.  In this movie, Keerthy is literally just there to stand next to Vijay as he does stuff.  She contributes absolutely nothing of her own.  There is even a small indication of a family issue that she may help Vijay with, and then that goes nowhere too.  So strange!

(She’s also not that very good of a dancer)


Let’s see, what did I like?  Well, the songs were good.


12 thoughts on “Tuesday Tamil: Sarkar Review (No Spoilers), Tamil Nadu Has an Embarrassing Crush on Corporate Raiders

  1. Yeah I don’t like Keerthy at all. Oh, it’s not her second film, she’s been around from probably 2016. And I think the romance in any Muragadoss film is inconsequential, except Ghajini. I’m so bored of these political dramas and NRIs solving all the problems – First Bharat And Nenu, NOTA and now this. And going by reviews, I think you probably feel the same way.


  2. You do know that using one director & one actor’s misplaced idea of a political hero to generalise that the whole place,people and the culture that makes up Tamil Nadu ,is embarrassingly enamored by Western corporate culture & urging them to be better is straight up offensive & patronizing? Knowing that you wouldn’t do that intentionly,can I request you to rephrase the sentences to probably mean that the makers’ idea of a leader is a cool corporate raider which is not necessarily endorsed by all of TN or not even by all Tamil films. So using statements like ‘ Tamil Nadu has an embarrassing crush’ is gross over generalisation.


    • I just re-read it, and I think I am fine with everything I said. Media theory argues that mass media reflects and simultaneously molds mass opinions. Obviously not everyone in Tamil Nadu likes corporate culture, but enough people do that it is a consistent trend in films. And, although I am not Tamilian or an expert on their culture, I’ve certainly seen enough online comments and articles and so on to make me think there is a strong part of Tamil society that does think Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are somehow the best people in the world.

      It’s truly not patronizing, at least no more than I would patronize any large group of media consumers. If I were an American film critic I would say “America is enamored of the white male savior” in response to the string of Superhero movies. In fact, most American film critics did say that. And then Black Panther turned that upside down and I suppose now there is a new theory, but I don’t know it because I’m not up on American film. But I am sure it is equally generalizing of the consumer, because that’s the purpose of mass media studies, to get an idea of the mass of people.


      • Quite obviously you & I follow different sections of Tamil society or Tamilians in internet. I have seen some very balanced discussions on a variety of topics that are not always film-related, under Baradwaj Rangan’s blog and few other portals where majority of the followers are Tamilians. Even without that, I don’t think I will generalise an entire society as some kind of wannabes based on random samples & articles from internet which probably is accessed by a smaller section of the population.
        Were you doing a mass media study of Tamil Nadu with this movie? Knowing that you are familiar with how a Vijay movie usually is, I would wonder why you picked this movie-especially,that one that was released only few days back for a mass media study.
        I know that you watch the movies associated with popular names in Tamil. Please check out some of the smaller but better made & successful movies like Pariyerum Perumal,96,Ratchasan,Vadachennai etc to see characters & filmmakers who have enough stories in their own world to tell without having to look to the west for inspiration.


        • Hey MKP,
          ‘Anyway, that’s what it is like watching this movie. With Tamil Nadu as the 13 year old girl who could do so much better, and Western corporate culture as the idiot boy they have an embarrassing obvious crush on because they don’t know how stupid he is.’
          Margaret clearly made the distinction that the corporate saviour insight was based on this movie, before as far as the review was concerned.
          Also, the commenters on BR’s blog are really not an accurate sample space to comment on the behaviour and mentality of Tamil Nadu as a whole, since they’re usually opinionated movie buffs from an urban background, who weigh various philosophies and ideas for themselves, which can not be the case for a majority of Tamilians.
          And yes, all the movies you mentioned were good watches, it truly was a great month for Tamil cinema.


          • Agreed that my sample of Tamilians would also be not accurate. Which is why im not making any sweeping judgements on anyone using my limited interactions from my living room during my free time.

            Thank you for pointing out that particular line from the review.Again I dont see the need of using Tamil Nadu in this line.Margret usually attributes whatever a movie is trying to convey in the form of a message, to the maker or lead actor. So this is a new where she’s passing the message & tone of one movie to the people of the state. It’s like saying Mumbai has a crush on criminals & on glorifying them because Sanju released.


  3. The reason why this movie’s themes and messages can be applied to Tamil Nadu by a critic is because that is so clearly what it is trying to do. Vijay and Murugadoss set out to outline a political manifesto in the guise of a film so why wouldn’t a n insightful viewer draw a ‘This is what the majority of suffering Tamilians are, and voting or rooting for the hot shot celebrity/underdog who made it beyond our wildest dreams will alleviate that suffering’ conclusion?
    And that Sanju analogy is kinda whack. He’s known more as an actor than a criminal with his own set of fans, for one thing. Second, Sanju didn’t set out to make big statements about Mumbai as a place or even Bollywood culture for that matter, the focus was on the two Dutts and some media slamming (which most people saw through anyway).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, she WAS!!! It was weird to have this terribly weak heroine, and a really good female villain. A sign (if I needed one after Akira) that Murgadoss’ issue isn’t with actresses, it’s with romance.


  4. Yesterday a puja took place for Vijay’s new film. But judging from his last two movies – Sarkar and Mersal it will be another political propaganda we can easly skip. Especially because the new movie is made by the same team who made Mersal.


    • And Rahman again. But based on the songs from Sarkar, he won’t be doing anything special.

      On Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 2:38 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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