‘Tughlaq Durbar’ film review: Vijay Sethupathi-Parthiban reunion is a wisecracking win-win

Director Delhiprasad Deenadayalan adds several interesting touches to a political drama that infuses funny lines and emotion in considerable measure

When we think of one-upmanship, it’s mostly different personalities and people from different strata of society.

In latest Tamil release Tughlaq Durbar, Singam (Vijay Sethupathi) and Rayappan (Parthiban) are two different people; the former is a thondan (worker), and the latter is his thalaivar (leader). But let us, for a minute, observe the actors playing them: Vijay Sethupathi’s casual approach has been most effective in the past few years, making him a hot favourite among audiences, while Parthiban has proved since the 90s that he’s blessed with a phenomenal gift of the gab.

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The two came together in Naanum Rowdy Thaan (2015), an irreverent film that had oodles of comedy and worked brilliantly. They recreate that to a large extent in Tughlaq Darbar, a political drama that infuses funny lines and emotion in considerable measure.

Singam admires Rayappan and wants to be like him, but his circumstances drastically change when he’s hit by a jealous party member. Will these new circumstances, in his pursuit of political greatness, lead him to a path of good or evil?

Tughlaq Durbar

  • Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Raashi Khanna, Parthiban, Manjima Mohan
  • Director: Delhiprasad Deenadayalan
  • Storyline: A political aspirant needs to decide between choosing a path of good or evil

Vijay Sethupathi isn’t doing anything radically different from what he has done already in films like Pizza and Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kanom, but that it plays out in a political milleu — where people are trying to get ahead of each other at any cost — is refreshing (the segment involving a mirror is one that Sethupathi aces).

Director Delhiprasad Deenadayalan also seems to have a good sense of comedy writing; another scene in which a few people are expecting a phone call is a laugh riot. We wished there was more of that, rather than the filmmaker’s idea to take forward a great comical set-up with colours of revolution (literally). It doesn’t help that some of the supporting characters, with the exception of Vasu (Karunakaran), aren’t written well; Manimegalai (Manjima Mohan) seems to be just pondering what the hell is going on, while the romance angle with Kamatchi (Raashi Khanna) seems to be there just for the sake of it. Thankfully, we get an interesting song in Kami Kami, composed by Govind Vasantha and written by Karky.

The biggest USP of the film is the interesting assortment of actors thrown in the mix; Vijay Sethupathi (showing a lot more purpose that he did in his other recent release Laabam), Parthiban (the nakkal in him is still intact) and even Sathyaraj. With all of them in decent form, it seeks to address the all-important question that Kamal Haasan was asked in the classic Nayakan: “Neenga nallavara kettavara?”

Well, the answer lies within you.

Tughlaq Durbar is currently streaming on Netflix

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