If there’s one thing that we can depend upon, it’s that the film industry will churn out gritty urban thriller after gritty urban thriller. Which makes it a tough genre to bring something new to. So how does new British crime drama Gangs of Tooting Broadway fair in this regard?
It’s 2009 and 24 hours before the Tamil protests outside of the Houses of Parliament in London, Arun (Nav Sidhu) returns to his home on Tooting Broadway to try and stop his younger brother Ruthi (Kabelan Verlkumar) from joining in with a criminal activity that could ruin his life.
Once back, he is given 24 hours by his mysterious employer to do what he needs to do, Arun finds that his old life, including old flame Kate & his old gang leader Karuna, threaten to drag him back into a world that he thought he had managed to leave behind. Will his need to forge a new life manage to provide enough pull to help him to escape from his perceived obligations to his family, friends & Tamil roots?
It’s always nice when you sit down to watch a film that you have absolutely no expectations about, and thought you knew what you were in for after watching the trailer, and find out that the film is a complete revelation & not what you were expecting after all.
And that is exactly what I got with Gangs of Tooting Broadway. With all of the mentions of the 2009 Tamil protests I was expecting a worthy film that tried to use a gang setting to batter people over the head with a “message”, but it doesn’t do that at all.
Director Devanand Shanmugam & writer Tikiri Hulugalle have managed to deliver a film that is not only interesting & gripping, but also thrilling & above everything else believable! The language used by all of the characters, from the most minor to major, is totally believable from the start, and everyone’s motivations & needs are delivered in a believable way as it shows how the Tamil youth were affected by a war that occurred miles away from their home.
If that sounds like the film is trying to preach to the viewer, it doesn’t. There was not one single moment that I felt like I was being told “this is how you should feel about this situation”. Instead, it presented the facts & left it at that & leaves it up to the viewer to think what they want.
In fact, the setting of the film in 2009 just gives the characters something else to work against without making it feel anachronistic in any way.
The mostly young cast is also exemplary, with all of them delivering truly watchable performances but the standouts are Nav Sidhu & Kabelan Verlkum as brothers Arun & Ruthi. Their chemistry together makes their interactions as two brothers who hardly know each other but still love one another, is truly very watchable indeed & it is them that makes the heart of the film & grips you until the very end.
All of this is even more amazing when you consider that this is the debut feature for director Shanmugam, writer Hulugalle and Kabelan Verlkum, which is just totally brilliant. If this is the quality of work that they can deliver on their debut I cannot wait to see what they do next!
Never less than a gripping watch, Gangs of Tooting Broadway should be on your watch list right now. It is the support of films like this, that shows true directorial, writing & acting talent that should be applauded & supported in the film industry & once again the British film industry proves that it can make films that more than match their Hollywood counterparts.