Outrageously dark banter to die for and the man of the hour thriving in his utterly humbling reign of severe justice, Jailer is likely to go down in history as an absolutely flamboyant entertainer through and through. When the self-proclaimed and crowd-revealed Superstar himself dons an everyman facade (for a while, at least) as a show of respect to the director, you know Jailer is where Nelson has achieved the magnificence his astute vision truly aimed for. There’s not a crack to frown at in the comedic elements that frame the over-the-top gore a film like this bases its shock factor on. Not a second goes by when you’re not disquietingly convinced of the terror masked by the grays of Tiger Muthuvel Pandian’s aged locks. Jailer is what you’ll find yourself coming back to when all else fails and run-of-the-mill action entertainers leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
What Happens In The Film?
It’s possible that you’re taking Muthuvel’s far-from-feral family-man avatar with a grain of salt. But when you actually see him going about his day-to-day life with his family, which he holds closer to his heart than anything else, Muthuvel emerges as every father who’s gone above and beyond to ensure his family’s well-being. The fabric of their safety and happiness, especially that of his son Arjun, who’s the local ACP, however, is under the constant threat of rupturing due to a serious investigation Arjun has dived into.
With an introduction that would send chills down your spine and surprisingly intrigue you at the same time, Varman’s air of perplexing derangement and acute mania is all you usually look for in a villain. For someone who drowns snitches in buckets of acid, it’s only normal that he wouldn’t take Arjun snooping around his idol-smuggling empire too kindly. Paying dearly for the indomitable bravery and ethics that his father has instilled in him, Arjun is soon kidnapped and assumed to have succumbed to Varman’s neurotic fury. To seek answers that no one’s serving him up on a platter and avenge the death that’s shaken the very ground his family’s happiness stood on, Muthuvel must look back at a grisly past he’s long left behind.
What’s Muthuvel Pandian’s Past Made Of?
The first grave mistake a villain can make in films like Jailer is seriously underestimating the lengths someone like Muthuvel is capable of going. And it’s not just Varman who’s guilty of this atrocious judgment. Seenu, the small-time thug who had the audacity to take Muthuvel lightly, was made to pay with the kind of death that would leave his corpse fit to hide in a sack. But terror isn’t all that Muthuvel’s unpredictable aura is about. The transcendental vibration of authority that surrounds Muthuvel’s menacing personality also makes him a rather eccentric friend to have around. The odd friendship he’s formed with the ne’er-do-well cab driver Vimal stands as a testament to his admirable lack of snootiness. When Muthuvel’s calculated show of trepidation strikes a very wrong chord with Varman and he attempts to kill the man’s grandson, you can practically foresee the grave the wacky criminal is digging for himself.
Muthuvel’s got connections that would make the most terrifying of mobsters cower. But here’s the thing about the man to whom someone as influential as Narasimha would happily lend four sharpshooters after just a cordial visit: He has a strange past. The revelation comes to us through Varman’s absolute horror when goons sent by Kamdev to wipe out Muthuvel’s family turn up dead. There’s no crook worth his salt who’d knowingly get on the wrong side of the once-petrifying jailer of Tihar prison. Through both his extreme punishments that sent jolts of terror down every prisoner’s spine and his sincere effort to help the good ones change the doomed course of their lives, Muthuvel became a man for whom big shots of the criminal world would lay down their lives. And even now, Muthuvel conducts his blood-curdling business with the same panache and charm that underline his well-earned self-confidence.
Through his terrorization of a corrupt psychiatrist and a tuppenny criminal who quickly reveals the route for the stolen idols, Muthuvel proves to Varman that messing with him will have grave consequences. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with people like Muthuvel, his only weakness is his love for his family. And the fear for his son’s life is what Varman instills in Muthuvel when he reveals that Arjun is being held captive. With no better option in his sight, Muthuvel is compelled to carry out an impossible heist: steal a supremely valuable crown from a temple in Andhra Pradesh.
How Does Muthuvel Outsmart Varman?
If you were wondering how Jailer, despite having a rather long runtime, never feels stretched or tedious, it’s because the film consists of multiple plotlines that come off as individual films in themselves. Where this aspect of Jailer is most discernible is when Muthuvel agrees to undertake the heist. Trouble is, not only does he have to take two of Varman’s trusted employees along, but he also has to somehow get to the crown, whose access is entrusted to someone absolutely explosive and capricious. There’s more. Blast Mohan, the trustee of the temple who has access to the crown, is as erratic as they come.
And what’s worse? His love for Kamna, an actress, seems to have no hope of reciprocation, as the director of the film they’re both cast in passes on Blast Mohan’s gifts as his own to woo her. That is, however, the only thing that can be manipulated by Muthuvel. So when his people blackmail the director into playing along with the threat of revealing his sketchy secret to Blast Mohan, the wildly moronic actor is convinced to visit the temple with the director in order to help him design a set that looks the same. With a heist movie starring Blast Mohan being made, not only does the CBI get convincing footage of him replacing the crown with a fake, but this distraction also gives Muthuvel a chance to concoct a far more convoluted plan. With his smuggler friend Mathew’s seemingly unlimited stash of arms to back his mission, Muthuvel plans an elaborate ruse with the security team overseeing the crown’s journey to Pune for a test of authenticity and fools Varman into accepting a fake crown.
Why Does Muthuvel Kill His Own Son?
Being the primary antagonist in a movie where the lead is someone the audience will invariably root for can’t be an easy job. What’s an even more absurd goal to set your sights on is aiming to be admired and feared at the same time, especially when the dark hero himself is on a similar mission. Actor Vinayakan brings such an authentic countenance of frenzy to Varman’s character that feeling a complex sense of astonishment for the man is unavoidable. What draws you closer to his chaotic exuberance is the fact that his madness is addictive. While a character such as Varman exudes the kind of jaw-dropping hysteria that can’t possibly be fully explored in just one film, what still makes all the work put into this character worthwhile is that he gets a worthy hero to torment with his lunacy.
Varman does not make it easy for Muthuvel to shatter his determination. His cat-like movements, toggling between unnerving threats and humble apologies, make it quite a task for Muthuvel to bring him to his knees once and for all. Fortunately, just one shrewd move that Muthuvel thought up turned out to be the one thing that would draw the curtain on Varman’s long-established reign of terror. The most foolproof way of duping a person is with something that they desire the most. For Varman, it’s the crown. Nevertheless, there are two things clouding Varman’s immediate judgment when it comes to the authenticity of the crown. He’s over the moon to finally get his hands on something he’s desired forever, and therefore, it doesn’t even cross his mind to check if he’s being taken for a fool. The fact that his most trusted henchmen, Dhanraj and Panneer, were overseeing the entirety of the heist gave him a false sense of control over what was going on. By the time he got to know that the crown he’d been swooning over was a fake, it was already too late.
At least the extraordinarily deranged Dhanraj, who’s been very expressively suicidal throughout the movie, gets a shot at killing himself to evade death by his beloved boss’ hand. That’s a win, right? What’s not a win for any party involved is Muthuvel’s son, Arjun, turning out to be a corrupt cop who was only after Varman to get him to work alongside him. He may be thinking that he’s pulling a fast one on his loving father by planning to wear his love as armor against his wrath, but Muthuvel is one step ahead of his son. Sure, his heart breaks at the sight of the footage of his son basically confessing to being a dubious cop, something he’s gotten access to thanks to his decision to bug the fake crown, but Muthuvel will never let love blur the lines between right and wrong. The son whose death he mourned and gave his all to avenge is now the man who’s willing to sacrifice his father for a shot at a luxurious life.
The values he thought he’d raised Arjun with and the resilience he regretted instilling in him were never a part of who Arjun grew up to be. He’s nothing like his father, and even that realization doesn’t stop Muthuvel from hoping that after coming back from captivity, Arjun will see the light and take a step toward the right path. Sadly, Arjun’s too far gone. He’s so hopelessly consumed by his greed that he ends up making the same mistake that he himself had warned others against—underestimating Muthuvel. While knowing that it’s the end of the road has pushed Varman deeper down the rabbit hole of self-destruction, Arjun still believes that he can get away with it. Although it would’ve been interesting to see how Muthuvel would’ve fared against Varman’s psychotic proclivities without the constant support of his associates and friends, Muthuvel’s wide-spread network of somewhat-reformed criminals paints an endearing picture of the man who’s clearly left an indelible mark on countless lives.
Jailer’s ending happily rewards the string of good decisions that’s been Muthuvel’s life for as long as he can remember. Because the draconian jailer helped him get a reduced sentence and turn his life around, Narasimha himself shows up at Muthuvel’s home to prove his undying loyalty and protect his family from the goons sent by Varman. While Varman might’ve thought that he’d done the smart thing by sending off all his valuables to a safer location to prepare for the face-off, Matthew’s been standing guard on the route, ready to capture everything Varman holds dear. The man has no fear for his life. It’s practically suicidal for Varman to attempt to take on Muthuvel and his loyal army all by himself. Varman’s been so immersed in his desire to surround himself with people who’d never betray him without ever giving them a reason to stick around that when he needs assistance the most, he’s left to fend for himself. I’d say it’s only poetic justice that Varman’s death is as excruciating as the ones he’d relished subjecting people to. And now that the lesser threat is out of the way, Muthuvel can turn and face the challenge he’s been dreading.
For someone whose morals have been the deciding factor in every choice he’s made in his life, it’s gut-wrenching for Muthuvel to accept that his own son is a crook. Even in the face of the most overwhelming curveball life’s thrown his way, Muthuvel is unfaltering in his resolve—justice over everything. One can only imagine the pain he’s made to endure when his own son points a gun at him to evade imprisonment. What someone else would’ve done in Muthuvel’s position is inconsequential. After all, he’s far from ordinary. What he proves by having his sharpshooter assassinate Arjun is that he would never flinch when confronted with the most challenging choice between right and wrong. He’d never stray from his righteous path, even if it meant sacrificing someone he probably loves more than he loves himself. Arjun was too far gone to save. And a gangrenous limb is better severed, however painful it might be to bid it goodbye.