Debutant director Saba Iyappan obviously belongs to the breed of directors who think that simply throwing
together elements like action, romance, sentiments and comedy is all that is required to deliver a successful
masala film. He does exactly that in Thoranai, banking on those elements to make up for the
wafer-thin story. Unfortunately, none of those individual elements drum up any excitement, and so his
approach, which admittedly has worked before, only results in a dull, ineffective film.
In order to comfort his distraught mother(Geetha), Murugan(Vishal) sets off to Chennai to find his longlost
elder brother Ganesan, who ran off after a particularly harsh punishment from his mother. It doesn't take
long for Murugan to get a taste of the rowdyism in Chennai, as he is caught in the middle of the turf war
between the two most powerful dadas Tamizharasu(Prakashraj) and Guru(Kishore). Meanwhile Murugan falls
for Indu(Shriya) but ends up rubbing her the wrong way every time.
Thoranai is stuck with a really flimsy story and desperately tries to stretch it out to two and a
half hours. This is particularly evident in the first half, before Vishal actually finds his brother. Having
decided to make Vishal identify his brother only at the intermission point but unable to find ways to make the
search itself interesting, the director makes him romance Shriya and goof around with Santhanam instead. But
neither of the two holds our attention since the romance is listless and neither cute nor funny and Santhanam's
shtick alternates between being repetitive (like his comments related to movies) and mean-spirited(like his
comments about Paravai Muniyamma and others). The only thing they succeed in doing is lessening our emotional
involvement in the film by making Vishal's search seem half-hearted and unconvincing.
Like Laadam, Thoranai starts off by placing Vishal between two men who are
sworn enemies. As Prakashraj and Kishore both threaten Vishal by asking him to do things that conflict with each
other, the film gives him the opportunity to play both of them and makes us wonder how he is going to do it. The
stakes are also raised once his brother is thrown into the mix. But the story doesn't play out as expected and
that turns out to be both good and bad. While the subsequent development provides the film's lone moment of
surprise, it decreases the potential in the story by essentially taking one of the key players out of the equation.
So, from a three-way competition, the film turns into another generic 'ordinary man vs powerful dada' tale
and we've had quite a few of those.
As Vishal goes up against Prakashraj and comes up with different plans to pull him down, the film reminds us of
films like Dhool, particularly when one of the plans uses the same basic idea
as one of Vikram's plans. But Vishal's plans here are lacklustre and insipid and Prakashraj ends up looking like
a simpleton considering his responses to those plans. Prakashraj's plan to pin Vishal down is, on the other hand,
too complicated and doomed for failure from the word 'go'. The climax banks on a string of coincidences and
contrivances and is neither convincing nor exciting.
Vishal seems to be gunning for the slot of poor man's Vijay, considering how much he copies his style, especially
in the lighter scenes. From his expressions to his dialog delivery(including the halting and stammering way
he mouths some lines), he reminds us of the Ilaya Thalapathy a bit too much. As always, he seems most
at home during the fight sequences, though they don't seem to have been choreographed as well as in his other
movies so far. Shriya is stuck in a cliched role and exists solely to be romanced by Vishal since we learn little
else about her. Prakashraj breezes through another bad guy role while Kishore essentially plays a less clever
version of the dada from Pollaadhavan. Mani Sharma's songs
have a strong Telugu hint as always. Pelican Paravaigal... is picturized energetically while
Vaa Chellam... features some nice locations.