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TUBELIGHT REVIEW: If concept alone was enough to give high marks to a movie, then Tubelight will score very high. The film is built around one quirky concept: what if there is a slight delay in how we process sounds? How will this influence our daily life and even our relationships? That said, concept alone cannot make a movie. But, it can definitely save it. As in this case.
Ram (Indra), a happy-go-lucky guy, dupes horny men and makes money out of them. But one day, he goes too far, and the vehicle he and his friends are travelling in, meets with an accident, that leaves him with a unique hearing disability — he can hear things only after a brief delay (five seconds or later). Dr Mouli (Pandiarajan), an unorthodox specialist, tries to rectify his problem using unconventional means, but Ram, who has fallen for Hema (Adithi), an art therapy practitioner, rejects his efforts. Meanwhile, Hema is kidnapped when she is out with Ram, who doesn’t realise it until a few minutes later because of his delayed hearing. Can he track down his girlfriend? Who is behind the kidnapping, and why?
What is frustrating about Tubelight is how its debutant director, Indra (who is also the composer of the film), fails to take his concept and turn into a cohesive film. The tone is wildly uneven — one moment he plays the hero’s disability for laughs and the next, he tries to milk it for sentiments, and immediately changes track, so that the scenes fail to make as much impact as they should. The acting and the filmmaking, too, keep reminding us that this is a first-timer effort.
And yet, despite all these flaws, the sheer novelty of the concept alone keeps the film engaging. After an uneven first half that takes its own sweet time to set up the high-concept premise, Tubelight finds some sure footing in the latter half, with the romance between Ram and Hema, which somewhat has the feel of a modern-day Sollamale. For how long can Ram hide his condition from the girl, and what kind of challenges does this pose? And the entry of a character from Ram’s not-so-distant past adds to the tension.
But the director doesn’t stop when he should, and continues with the ridiculous revenge sub-plot much longer that we start wishing for the film to end of a high note.