From his debut feature ‘Trisha Illana Nayanthara,’ Adhik Ravichandran established himself as the king of tastelessness. Successive films such as ‘AAA’ and ‘Bagheera’ were both critically panned and box office failures. Somehow, not only has the director managed to keep making films, but has doubled down on his style with his new film ‘Mark Antony.’ Even more surprisingly, the film manages to entertain its audience by sticking wholeheartedly to its ridiculousness.
The film starts with the invention of a time-travelling telephone. A number of confusing rules are set out, which even the film does not strictly adhere to. The conventional rules of time travel are thrown out of the window, leaving the film with plot holes aplenty. A pair of gangsters played by Vishal and SJ Suryah face off against their arch nemesis Ekambaram, played by Sunil. We follow two generations of these gangsters in their feud against Ekambaram, which becomes complicated once the time-travelling telephone enters their lives.
‘Mark Antony’ is an exercise in the profane. There is no respect for plot, character development, continuity or any of the core fundamentals of filmmaking. For that matter, political correctness and good taste are not present either. Instead, Ravichandran seems to have created a new genre for Tamil cinema: an unrelenting and garish blend of exploitation cinema with the usual masala type format. The costumes and makeup are bombastic, the dialogue and characters are cartoonish and the pacing is tailor-made for the shortening attention span of the current era. And the result of all this is a very novel film. Vishal has broken his recent slump in his filmography by experimenting in his roles, and his foil played by SJ Suryah is the true star of the flick. SJ Suryah steals every scene he is in, with his usual larger than life style being amplified several times more. Every other role - as well as the female characters - take a back seat to let Suryah bask in the limelight.
The filmmaking has a maximalist approach. Zany camera movement and angles, dodgy special effects galore and unapologetically flamboyant performances all come together to bamboozle the viewer. Due to the lapses in logic, the film is continually unpredictable. Although the cinematography and set design often leave one wanting, they can be forgiven and seen to be part of the gimmicky nature of the film.
One letdown of the film is the work of the music composer GV Prakashkumar. The songs are not particularly memorable, and do not quite add to the absurd lengths the film’s narrative dives into.
Overall, although oftentimes headache inducing and downright nonsensical, Ravichandran should be lauded for a unique and entertaining film. A confusing riot on the first watch, I do wonder whether the film will be as rewarding on a repeat viewing. Furthermore, hopefully Ravichandran does not rest on his laurels, and continues to innovate in further films.
Krishna's rating: 3 stars
Official trailer for film below.