Tamilrockerz (2022)

It’s an irritatingly ironic thing that a series that aims to showcase the ills of piracy, might actually be helpful in bringing out the case for the pirates.

When the Sony Liv series was announced, it had enough intriguing elements that made me seek it,

First was the writer-director Arivazhagan who has, in my book, one of the best thriller filmographies in recent Tamil cinema.

Next was the comeback of the storied production house AVM, whose last theatrical release was in 2011.

Finally, the story of Tamilrockerz, a renegade pirate group who had gained popularity for releasing pirated versions of Tamil movies on the same day of release.

As usual in this never-ending cycle of “expectation-leads-to disappointment”, none of the expected elements fired to push this thriller to even the bare minimum of what could be termed as thrilling.

Instead, what we get is for the 700th time in cinema, a police officer with a dead wife, running a rather uninteresting race against time investigation.

Ok let’s write an investigative thriller.

What should our police hero be called?

It must be one single name.

How about Rudra?

Super. Rudra it is. Basic police hero name. Ajay Devgn also used recently.

What should be his motivation?

A masked gang kidnapped his wife and killed her. Basic police motivation.

Super, put that in.

So, he becomes rogue and executes fake encounters at will.


Because we need to have at least one chase and fight for our hero.

What happens as a result of this fake encounter? Do they reprimand him?

No, he is in fact given the task to round up Tamilrockerz.

Yes, this series is as cliched as the Z that comes in Tamilrockerz.

Ok theek hai, that they didn’t have enough time to write better characters, maybe they spent that time in trying to find out how piracy networks work.


But then that is too not the case, in fact the film is not about the inner workings of the piracy network, it is another careless revenge thriller.

Tamilrockerz are not faceless villains who wrecked the Tamil cinema industry, but it was all a personal score to settle with a certain producer. Someone from the producer’s past badly lip-syncs his way to become the villain of his future.

The Kollywood producer victimization meter too is turned to a 11, constantly trying to remind the audience that production of movies is both risky and noble.

Guys, feel for the producer.

Think about the families!

Think about the 300 people working on set!

Kollywood Victimization reaches peak when Arivazhagan decided to drop MS Baskar into the mix, as a failed producer who has lost it all.

In the 1970s this would have been considered cute. Cute but with tears.

It’s the magic of the movies, guys, it could lead you to madness. Don’t you get it?

Think about all the families!

But what about telling a story? What about characters? What about cutting down the bullshit?

Uh…um…think about the families!

Of course, there is no point in expecting a balanced take or even an in-depth take. Kolly simply doesn’t do depth.

Kolly also doesn’t give credit when it ‘adapts, nor is it fully accountable to the taxman, and fully exploits the emotions of fanboys but somehow wants us to feel for them producers.

Them producers who from their Audis and AC rooms want to convince us of their noble intentions.

Think about their families!

Tamilrockerz is streaming on Sony LIV.

As the swivel chair spins will return.

Netflix OTT TV

Decoupled (Netflix, 2021)

What if you could really say what you think? As opposed to what if you could really say what you feel?

I avoided the word feel, because Arya Iyer in the new Netflix relationship series Decoupled doesn’t seem to care much about feelings.

He is an observer and a thinker and by virtue of being the second best selling Indian English author in the country (huh), he is able to achieve this special status.

In India, it must really be normal to say what you think, after all it is guaranteed in the Constitution, but as an earlier Manu Joseph (the same who created Decoupled) column would go on to say:  freedom of expression is always subordinate to someone’s freedom to take offense.

Netflix marketed Decoupled as a divorce comedy that looks at marriage in urban elite India, which it is, but it is also mostly not.

Arya Iyer, a stand-in for Manu uses Decoupled as a platform for social commentary. All evidence points that way that, starting from the Dravid vs Tendulkar argument, the constant state of being riled at Indian bullshit jobs, the users of certain words and the general dissing of economists and art films. It’s all from his columns.

In modern marketing (an upmarket term that marketers use to prevent themselves from being identified as digital marketers), seniors would often throw around the term ‘content repurposing’ which is shorthand for ‘we don’t have any new ideas.

There you learned something which you can use in your next marketing meeting. See here, I’m being meta about my day job while using a film blog as a platform to spell out my irritations. Decoupled does the same.

The observations from Manu’s mint column which are visualized, some of them prescient like an offhand comment on how like Israel everyone in India should have 2 years military training and many hilarious like literal Greta Thunberg costumes, Gurgaon working women’s book club and the concept of live-art.

But what’s the point?

People (mostly men) have a lot of irritations, but mouthing them would land us in trouble, increasingly so when each word has to be measured in the fear of offending anyone. So much so that it is often portrayed that expressing such observations (however superficial) is somehow insensitive to others.

The threat of being offended looms large and most opinions are not expressed. Be civil, agree to your mainstream, smile when you have to, salute when you have to, give for the causes everyone gives to etc. In a sense it is the freedom of collective expression that prevails over the freedom of expression.

While the better thing to do would have been to air the opinions however stupid or profound and be done with it. It’s an opinion for God’s sake, it can change and it should offend.

Arya Iyer is a creation of an irritated mind, he cannot exist in reality, he cannot exist in the sectors of Gurgaon or in any Indian gaon; but Manu goes beyond just creating an irritating character but allows him to pursue his irritation into actions of small pleasure; it is as though in this universe: the irritated must irritate, the annoyed must annoy back and therein lies the sweetness of small-time revenge.

And Madhavan is a revelation as Arya Iyer, offending everyone, he is self-assurance personified and when he does say these observations (The Indian way of having one gate closed- haha), it does come off as a person who wishes to be seen as smart.

Punching in all directions

There is an unwritten rule that farmers and poor people should not be made fun and the joke should always be on the rich and the famous. Decoupled boxes with this rule in some episodes. When the driver Ganesh tells Arya that the smell on his body is actually the smell of the land (the sweat from agriculture), in a usual film or series this would be an inspiring-emotional moment but here it is played for laughs.

I wish this season had gone into establishing that rich or poor, we all come with our quirks, malice and goodness and true representation is showing them as they are and not feigning respect or sympathy for sakes. Ganesh does get the best lines in the series after Arya, maybe a tad bit too late.

Decoupled also does not give me enough of Shruti, played by Surveen Chawla who displays a keen understanding for the character but has very little to do, again until the very end. The writing also becomes lite when the series tries to be an Indian version of Seinfeld (Arya and his friends pitch something like a show about nothing to Netflix) and suddenly the gravity of the lead characters decoupling takes over episode 7 and 8.

The series is important to me also because after a long time felt watching a show which did not try and appeal to everyone for the sake of distribution. The creation of the niche shows was what was promised in OTT land but even the good ones took the broad-based Bollywood approach to storytelling.

Decoupled is specific in its targeting and interesting in its premise, funny in its happenings and is a very easy watch.

All episodes now streaming on Netflix.