Some critics may complain that Tamil Cinema is replete with comedy and thriller subjects nowadays. What about comic thrillers? One can cite Tamil films following this genre but the number would not make anyone complain. Damaal Dumeel the debut film of Shankar's erstwhile assistant Sree which happens to be actor Vaibhav's first film as a solo hero aspires to be a fast paced thriller with elements of dark comedy.
Mani aka Moneykandan (Vaibhav) is an IT employee with a posh lifestyle and a pretty girl friend Meera (Remya Nambeesan). While he plans to conduct his younger sister's wedding with much grandeur the company which has employed him shows him the exit door as a measure of cost cutting. Mani's protests do not pay off since he had signed an agreement authorizing the employer to terminate his services at any time.
Mani starts searching for other jobs sitting at his posh residence when a parcel of rupees five crores reaches his doorstep due to a misunderstanding. The money is drug peddler Ilavarasu's (Kotta Srinivasa Rao) commitment to pay Kamatchi Sundaram (Shayaji Shinde) who is on the run after being charged for the crime of selling outdated medicines.
Mani in his attempts to loot the lump sum and fly out of the country ends up causing death to the accomplices of Ilavarasu and Kamatchi and also a police officer who accidentally bumps in the scene. Both Ilavarasu and Kamatchi mistake the other for planning to cheat with the money while Ilavarasu mistakes Mani as an accomplice of Kamatchi.
How Mani escapes from the two hooligans and what happens to the money forms the rest of the film.
Sree should be appreciated for packing the film tightly with a running time that is tad below two hours. The entire film happens in a day or two and the opening club song is the only deviation from the main story line.
But the main plot of the film takes its own time to open and the screen time taken to pass on the impact of the lead man losing an IT job all of a sudden, seems a bit longer than required.
The reason behind the money reaching Mani's house has been portrayed convincingly. But the turn of events following that depend too much on coincidence. Most of the efforts intended to make us laugh fall flat including the inclusion of the character that enters the scene asking for porn dvd's from Mani while he is trying to escape from a crime scene. Mani's efforts to hide the corpses are over stretched and they are also not portrayed convincingly.
Beyond all these there are logical loopholes in the film which cross the limits of cinematic liberty. How both Ilavarasu and Kamatchi decide to wait to confront each other till a given point of time? How such powerful goons indulging in nefarious activities turn so credulous to the theories explained over phone by their accomplices who have witnessed the spot, and mistake each other?
While we keep searching for answers for these questions, all the characters are assembled at a particular spot and things turn favorable to the hero, thanks to the timely (!) intervention of the Policemen.
Sharp dialogues, Kota Srinivasa Rao's acting and Thaman's re-recording are the big plusses of the film. The director subtly takes a dig at the conservative mindset of today's youngsters who are otherwise seen as the placard holders of modernity and that can be appreciated.
Vaibhav scores well at histrionics and he is at his usual best in delivering the dialogues laced with wit. But the young actor has to concentrate on pronunciation. Remya Nambeesan emotes well in the limited scope she has especially in the climax where she is required to give a short lecture on ill effects of money earned through illegal means. The actor who has acted as Vaibhav's friend shows promise. Shayaji Shinde and Charlie who comes as a watchman fit their respective roles to T. The 'passport' photographer who loses his temper at a drop of the hat is a scream.
Songs are limited in number and thankfully they are used to move the script. But they may not amuse music lovers. Debutante cinematographer A.M.Edwin Sakay should be appreciated for using different light settings matching with the mood of the scene. Paramesh Krishna' editing contributes well to the crispness of the narration.
With Damaal Dumeel, Sree enters as a promising talent who can emerge as a filmmaker who can give enthralling comedies and thrillers. But he will have to work more on changing his ideas into scripts that can hold on the attention of the viewer.
Verdict- This slick and neat package would have been saved to a great extent if the narration was a little more interesting.