Synopsis: A greedy TV channel owner tries to rake in the moolah by pitting a reluctant local boxer against a notorious international champion.
Review: Bhooloham is set in north Madras and revolves around the boxing community in the place. There are two warring boxing groups in the locality and Deepak Shah, a media moghul, hits upon the idea of holding a boxing championship by exploiting their rivalry. With his smooth operator ways, he has no difficulty in getting Bhooloham, a boxer seeking to avenge the loss of his late father in the ring, fight against Arumugham, whose father had defeated the former’s father in the tournament. The hot-headed Bhooloham puts Arumugham in a critical condition by knocking him out in their match, but has a moment of epiphany and decides to hang up his gloves for good. But Deepak, who is counting on the tournament to bring untold riches to the channel, will not let him withdraw that easily. He stages a match between Bhooloham and the national champion Guru Dayal by deceit and forces Bhooloham to take on Steven George, a notorious international champion, in the final match. Can the hot-headed Bhooloham see through his game plan?
Bhooloham is written by director SP Jhananthan and though the director’s fingerprints are evident in most places, it is in the climax that they are very apparent. It is structured as a sports film, but it is actually a rant against sensationalism in the TV media, capitalism, and even an unintended plug for the Indian government’s Make in India initiative. As he did in his own film, Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai, earlier this year, Jhananthan uses this plot to spell out discussion points for the society. Director Kalyanakrishnan’s filmmaking style is loud but it suits the tone of the writing and given that the characters, too, are written as over-the-top individuals, the film doesn’t grate once we have settled in after the first few minutes. The milieu of the film feels authentic and that is the director’s biggest triumph. He nicely captures the sub-culture of boxing that is popular among the people of north Madras and we get to see their beliefs and their values through the actions of some of the characters. The film’s digs at the amount of sensationalism and commercialisation in the reality shows of TV channels is also spot on — Deepak keeps telling his executives to instigate people and the screaming promo videos turn a boxing competition into war, while the kind of sponsors that the programme attracts are witty alludes (Palakalar Cool Drink, Muru Muru Chips) to existing soft drink, snack and health brands.
The director also exploits Jayam Ravi’s tendency to go overboard and the actor, with his exaggerated acting style and toned physique actually makes us believe he is Bhooloham. But the other actors are typecast. Prakash Raj is once again given a role of a scheming villain and given that we had only recently seen him in such a role in Inji Iduppazhagi, we get a sense of deja vu. Even the arrogant north Indian (Arpit Ranka) and burly foreigner (former professional wrestler Nathan Jones, who seems to have been game enough to dress up in drag) are stereotypes. And Trisha, who plays Sindhu, Bhooloham’s love interest and ardent fan, looks out of place and never feels like she belongs in this setting. She seems to have been roped in just to balance the testosterone on screen.
The film wants us to believe that a TV channel can wield an inordinate amount of power over the viewers, who will hardly question its decisions.But what mainly lets it down is the predictability of the plot. Every twist and turn is visible a mile ahead, so it brings down the excitement that we should ideally feel in films of this genre. And the climactic bout is, in fact, hilariously staged, and when Steven, who, until then, had been built up as a psycho who uses boxing as an excuse to kill, has a change of heart, for no apparent reason, it is hysterical.