Vijay Sethupathi films tend to be a 50:50 deal for me. He is either a part of some of the best Tamil films in recent history or run-of-the-mill, unoriginal template masala films. Unfortunately, DSP falls in the latter category. Ponram’s films ‘Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam’ and ‘Rajinimurugan’ have acquired cult comedy status, however his films of late have been received with less success and praise, and ‘DSP’ seems to continue this trend.
The film follows Vijay Sethupathi’s Vasco Da Gama (perhaps I am not intelligent enough to understand why this reference is relevant), yet another unemployed youth who decides to become a police officer following a confrontation with a local thug. The film is another addition to the plethora of local good guy who goes up against local goon plot which the Tamil audience has yet to tire of. A slightly more entertaining version of this story was performed by Vijay Sethupathi himself in the eponymous ‘Sethupathi’ from 2016. Much like other Ponram films, there is a romantic sidetrack with a relative newcomer - in this case Anukreethy Vas, who plays Annapoorani. The lead duo engage in a will-they-won’t-they type relationship. Again, this situation is done better in the aforementioned Ponram films. And much like other Tamil films of a similar ilk, this subplot is mostly abandoned in the second half.
Technically, the film has its ups and downs. The cinematography department cannot be faulted - the film is shot competently. A lot of mainstream Tamil cinema has this issue where the technical departments outshine the writing and directing teams. The result is a decent presentation of yawn-inducing content.
D Imman’s soundtrack is also lacklustre. None of the songs elicited any admiration, despite the inclusion of great voices like Udit Narayan and Sid Sriram. The Sid Sriram and D Imman combination has produced sonic gold in the past, so it was even more disappointing when the romantic track Annapoorani played.
The plot is mostly predictable. There are instances where tropes are subverted: one villain is shot during an encounter procedure by someone other than the hero, the ‘transfer order’ scene is reversed, and a halfway point in the climactic fight sequence made me laugh out loud from how ridiculous it was. These moments are for comedic purposes, but the unfocussed tone of the film stops these moments from landing. The film is bland, and no number of trope subversions can help it. There is a surprise cameo from Vimal, which may be the least excited I have been to see a guest role.
Overall, DSP is a lacklustre addition to the cop genre of Tamil films. The weak screenplay and script, the lack of effort in the story and the unmemorable soundtrack do the film no favours. Vijay Sethupathi said in an interview that he picks roles that have something new to offer, in order to expand his dimensions as an actor. I did not recognise any aspect of this film which might have aided in his acting process. For a better Vijay Sethupathi starring film of a similar genre, I would recommend 2016’s ‘Sethupathi’. Or, if you wish to see Vijay Sethupathi at his best, I would recommend ‘Kadaisi Vivasaayi’ - which would be my pick for the best Tamil film of 2022 (so far).
Krishna's rating: 2 stars
Official trailer for the film below.