Movie Review

Dikkiloona review: Santhanam needs to go back in time, undo this sexist comedy

Like so many things before it, the origin of the word Dikkiloona is cinematic. The first-ever popular usage of this word could be traced back to director Shankar’s directorial debut Gentleman. In the 1993 film, Babloo, played by iconic comedian Senthil, introduces us to a rather naughty game called Dikkiloona. This game involves two participants running backward towards each other until they both crash into each other, butt first. One’s backside in colloquial Tamil is referred to as ‘dikki’. Ergo, the game’s name Dikkiloona.

And you may wonder why Karthik Yogi decided to name his latest film after this nonsensical game? People who have seen this film may argue that the title justifies the ridiculous nature of the film. However, in Karthik’s defence, the film’s hero, Mani (played by Santhanam), stumbles upon a time machine by opening the trunk (read ‘dikki’) of an old ambassador car, conspicuously embossed with Dikkiloona. The dikki is a false door to a secret laboratory where a group of scientists, who are hell-bent on presenting themselves as a bunch of imbeciles, are struggling to crack the formula to make an operational time machine. They have been at it for many years but in vain.

Mani’s unexpected visit to the lab changes everything. Following some meaningless banter, marked by Santhanam’s trademark insults, Mani meets his childhood friend Albert (played by Yogi Babu) at the lab. Albert causes an accident, triggering a surge of energy flow. The incident jump-starts the rusty time machine, which is the first breakthrough in decades. But, the scientists need to key in the formula into the system immediately to stop the time machine from exploding. While everyone is scratching their heads, Albert who lost his consciousness due to electric shock, wakes up and offers the formula to save the time machine. The school dropout who grew up to become a janitor miraculously gains the IQ of Albert Einstein due to the shock.

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That’s how silly this film is.

Albert’s newfound genius allows men to travel through the very fabric of time. Mani plays his friendship card with Albert to seek a favour, which is to transport him back to 2020, seven years before the current events. Mani wants to stop his old self from getting married to his girlfriend Priya (Anagha), so he can escape from his present marital hell. The hero is running backwards (in time) like the participants of Dikkiloona.

It is a deeply silly film, just meant to tickle our funny bone. You laugh, if you can, forget it and move on with your life. Dikkiloona doesn’t add any value to your life, or aspires to move you or challenge your worldview.

Karthik Yogi and Santhanam desperately want to make the audience laugh. So much so that they resort to body-shaming, name-calling, demeaning mental patients and even engaging in blatant sexism.

Mani wants to change the past because Priya has become a nagging wife and he can’t tolerate her any longer. But, he never for a moment thinks why she is so resentful of him? Because he has been lying to her and failed to understand her suffering. He’s a self-centred misogynist and instead of reflecting on himself, he wants to go back in time and stop his marriage with Priya.

Now, Meghna (Shirin Kanchwala), Priya’s friend, was also in an unhappy marriage that ended in divorce. She openly expresses her interest in Mani and asks him to dump Priya and marry her. Mani is not okay with this because somewhere deep down in his shallow mind, he is not okay with Meghna’s conjugal status. She lived with another man for seven years and that’s something he can’t stand.

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So Mani wants to go back in time not just to stop his wedding with Priya but also to gain Meghna’s affection before she gets married.

He succeeds in changing the past. Mani is in for a rude shock when he finds out that he is unhappy with Meghna as well. The point is just because he managed to manipulate time that doesn’t automatically make him an interesting personality. He is still an indifferent, whining and ignorant sexist.

But, instead of focusing on flaws in Mani, Karthik turns the attention on Meghna. If Priya was too nagging, he presents Meghna as a loose character. Why? Because she is crazy about social media and she has friends who are boys. And guess what, her male friends are deserving of Mani’s contempt and of all those who are as conventionally smart and good looking as Mani. Why do you ask? Because Meghna’s close friend has a hairstyle and body type that warrants condemnation and ridicule.

Mani berates Meghna, and asks if “she is a woman at all?”. You know, the classic go-to line of the 20th-century man to remind a woman of her place. Not just Mani, no man in Karthik’s world is happy with his wife and lack respect for them.

Dikkiloona makes one wonder whether Karthik and Santhanam are living in a bubble exposed only to regressive thoughts. The fast-growing awareness of gender sensitivity and evolving gender dynamics in society have no place in the deeply problematic Dikkiloona. The undertone of this narrative is extraordinarily conservative and backward.

Take, for example, Priya. In one reality, in which Priya is a working woman, she is always nasty and nagging. In an alternative reality, where she is happy, she is a housewife, playing second fiddle to her husband.

Dikkiloona is streaming on Zee5.

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