Theri (transl. Spark) is a 2016 Indian Tamil-language action-thriller film written and directed by Atlee and produced by Kalaipuli S. Thanu. The film stars Vijay, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, and Amy Jackson. Featuring music composed by G. V. Prakash Kumar and cinematography handled by George C. Williams. The story revolves around a baker who holds a secret identity as former Deputy commissioner of police and he is on a secret Ghost Protocol mission organised by the Commissioner of police.
Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Kalaipuli S. Thanu|
|Written by||Atlee & S. Ramana Girivasan|
Samantha Ruth Prabhu
|Music by||G. V. Prakash Kumar|
|Cinematography||George C. Williams|
|Distributed by||SPI Cinemas (Chennai)|
|Budget||est. ₹75 crore|
|Box office||est. ₹160 crore|
The film began production in Chennai during early July 2015. Action scenes were filmed throughout November, though the shoot was disrupted by the heavy flooding in Chennai. In addition, poor climatic conditions in China meant that the team had to abandon their idea of filming sequences there and instead opted to shoot in Bangkok.
The film had a worldwide release on 14 April 2016. The film was also dubbed into Telugu and was released as Policeodu on 15 April 2016. By the end of its first 6 days in theaters, Theri had grossed ₹1 billion (US$14 million). In the United Kingdom, it broke Enthiran's (2010) box office collection for the first weekend. Vijay won the Best Entertainer of the Year award for his performance in the film at the 6th South Indian International Movie Awards in 2017. The film was adapted into Assamese as Ratnakar (2019).
Joseph Kuruvilla (Vijay) leads a happy life in Kerala with his daughter Niveditha alias Nivi (Baby Nainika), and runs a bakery with Rajendran (Rajendran). He meets Annie (Amy Jackson), Nivi's class teacher, and they both become good friends. After a series of mishaps and run-ins with local gangsters, Annie finds out that Joseph is none other, but, the "late" Vijay Kumar. Joseph reveals his past as Vijay Kumar to Annie but warns her not to tell Nivi about it.
Five years ago, Vijay Kumar was an honest and upright DCP in Chennai. He takes up a case involving the rape and subsequent death of an IT employee named Raji. He finds out that the rapist is Ashwin, the son of Labor Minister Vanamaamalai (J. Mahendran). Vijay kills Ashwin and reveals himself as the murderer to Vanamaamalai, who swears to take revenge on him for killing his son. Meanwhile, Vijay falls in love with a medical student named Mithra (Samantha Ruth Prabhu), and both eventually get married and lead a happy life. Unfortunately, Vijay's happiness is short-lived as Vanamaamalai, his younger brother Ratnam (Azhagam Perumal), and their henchmen barge into his house one night and kill Mithra and Vijay's mother (Raadhika). They brutally assault Vijay and attempt to drown his baby daughter, Nivi, in the bathtub. A dying Mithra manages to rescue Nivi and asks Vijay to take care of her, but not before making him promise that he will quit the police force and become a peaceful and loving father to Nivi, before dying in Vijay's arms. Vijay fakes his death, changes his name to Joseph Kuruvilla and maintains a low profile by moving to Kerala with Nivi and his constable friend Rajendran to protect Nivi from Vanamaamalai and his gang.
One day, while Nivi is on an excursion, the brakes of the school bus in which Nivi is traveling fails, and the bus plunges into the backwater. Vijay, with the help of Annie, Rajendran, and the local people, manages to rescue Nivi and the other children. He finds out that Vanamaamalai, who has realized that he and Nivi are still alive, was responsible for the bus plunging into the backwater in order to kill Nivi. Enraged, he decides to abandon his nonviolent principles and destroy Vanamaamalai and his gang once and for all.
Vijay, posing himself as the "ghost" of Vijay Kumar, starts eliminating Vanamaamalai's henchmen one-by-one. He first kills Inspector Karikalan (Stun Siva), who is one of Vanamaamalai's henchmen and was present at the night when Mithra was killed. The police are baffled at the murder as it was done within the police station and refuse to believe that Vijay committed the murder since they think that he is dead. The "mysterious deaths" continue, with Vijay pushing Ratnam to his death from a high-story building being constructed by him. Vanamaamalai is accused of killing Ratnam since both had fallen out, forcing him to go into hiding. Finally, Vijay allows himself to be captured by Vanamaamalai's henchmen in order to enter his hideout. After eliminating Vanamaamalai's henchmen, Vijay kills him. The police soon arrive at Vanamaamalai's hideout, only to see his dead body hanging from the ceiling, and with nobody else around, his murder also gets sensationalized in the media as a mysterious murder. It is soon revealed that the Chennai commissioner of police Sibi Chakravarthi (Prabhu) is aware that Vijay is alive and secretly re-employs him in the police to reduce crime in Chennai in his "ghost" form, taking advantage of the fear the negative elements of the society have for Vijay, while publicly denying that he is still alive.
A few years later, Vijay, an older Nivi (Divya Saasha), Annie and Rajendran have moved to Ladakh, with Vijay having changed his name to Dharmeshwar. But he continues to work secretly for the Chennai Police, eliminating crime in his "ghost" form.
- Vijay as D. C. P. A.Vijaykumar IPS / Joseph Kuruvilla / Dharmeshwar
- Samantha Ruth Prabhu as Mithra, A.Vijaykumar's wife
- Amy Jackson as Annie, Nivi's teacher
- Baby Nainika as young Niveditha (Nivi)
- Divya Saasha as teenage Niveditha
- J. Mahendran as Vanamaamalai
- Raadhika Sarathkumar as Vijay Kumar's mother
- Rajendran as P. Rajendran
- Shreekumar as ACP
- Manobala as School principal
- Azhagam Perumal as Rathnam
- Stun Siva as ACP Karikalan
- Kaali Venkat as Ganesan
- Kalyani Natarajan as the forensic examiner
- Sugunthan as Isaac
- Ayra as Pallavi Ramakrishnan, Mithra's sister
- Niharika as Mithra's and Pallavi's aunt
- Prinz Nithik as Chetan's henchman
- Soundararaja as Karthik
- Sai Dheena as Rogue (Pulippu)
- Bineesh Bastin as Chetan's henchman
- R.K. Abinav as Pandy Kutti
- Aathma Patrick
- T. Muthuraj as Chetan (in a special appearance)
- Prabhu as Commissioner G.Cibi Chakravarthi (guest appearance)
- Sunaina as Vijayakumar's prospective bride (in a special appearance)
- Amritha Aiyer as Mithra's cousin (uncredited)
In September 2014, Kalaipuli S. Thanu signed on to finance a project directed by Atlee, which would feature Vijay. Atlee continued to script the film through late 2014, while it was announced that Vijay would join the team to start filming after the completion of his other venture, Puli (2015). Actresses Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Amy Jackson were reported to have signed the film in January 2015, after a few Hindi actresses turned down the opportunity to work on a Tamil film. Several of the technical crew involved in Atlee's previous film, Raja Rani (2013), were also added to the team including music composer G. V. Prakash Kumar, cinematographer George C. Williams, editor Ruben and art director T. Muthuraj. An official launch event was held at the Kerala Club House on the East Coast Road in Chennai, with several members of the cast and crew in attendance. Alongside the lead actor, it was revealed that Prabhu, Raadhika, director Mahendran, and actress Meena's daughter Nainika would be a part of the film. Several titles for the film including Moondru Mugam, Vetri, Thuppaki 2, Khakee and Thaarumaaru were considered, before the makers finalised Theri in late November 2015.
The film began production in Chennai during early July 2015 and an introductory song for Vijay was shot in the city, followed by scenes featuring the actor and Samantha Prabhu on the East Coast Road. Further scenes in Chennai were shot at Adityaram Studios and at Binny Mills, where art director T. Muthuraj had erected a huge set. Raadhika was also a part of the shoot, while actress Sunaina shot for one day in the schedule which ended in mid July 2015. The second schedule for the film restarted in Chennai during August 2015 and went on for twenty five days. Vijay and Samantha Prabhu participated in shooting of the month, while production was briefly delayed owing to a strike held by the Tamil Film Producers council against FEFSI employees. MGM Dizzee World on the East Coast Road was also used as a location to film sequences during August 2015. A further schedule began again for a month long shoot in September 2015 in Chennai.
In November 2015, it was revealed that the film was "seventy percent complete" and portions involving Samantha Prabhu had finished being shot. Thereafter, Amy Jackson subsequently joined the team in Chennai to shoot for her part during a new schedule. Action scenes, choreographed by Dhilip Subbarayan were filmed throughout the month, with the shoot disrupted by the heavy flooding in Chennai. Hollywood action choreographer Kaloyan Vodenicharov worked with the team in early December 2015 to help shoot the climax portions for the film. Poor climatic conditions in China meant that the team had to abandon their idea of filming sequences there and instead opted to shoot in Bangkok. Sets were erected in a factory in Chennai to shoot the climax scenes, with stunt choreographer Kaloyan Vodenicharov recruited to help train artistes and film the sequences during December 2015.
The film had a worldwide release on 14 April 2016 It was dubbed into Telugu and was released as Policeodu (transl. Police Man}}) also on 15 April 2016, however, the title was later on altered to Police and was to be remade in Telugu with Ravi Teja.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. IndiaGlitz.com rated the film 3 out of 5 and called it "An entertaining revenge drama from Atlee and Vijay". Gautaman Bhaskaran of Hindustan Times rated the film 2.5 out of 5, saying, "When I walk into a Vijay film, I know exactly what I would be pounded with--cyclonic action, humongous heroism, nobility and syrupy romance. Vijay's latest Robin Hood adventure, Theri, has all of these ingredients to make the movie into a masala that Indian cinema terms entertainment". Sify also rated the film 3 out of 5 stars saying that "Vijay's scorching screen presence and his infectious energy is the highlight." Behindwoods also rated the film 2.75 stars out of 5, stating that "The Theri man has given his best. Overall performance that will satisfy all center audiences and it is the most convincing cop avatar that Vijay has portrayed." The Indian Express rated the movie 2 out of 5 and said that "Vijay's limitations as an actor exposed in a predictable storyline." Bardwaj Rangan of The Hindu stated that Atlee's screenplay checks all boxes and we're checking these boxes 10 min. ahead of him." Times of India rated the movie 3 out of 5 stars and said that "With the right material Vijay can elevate even an ordinary scene with his amazing screen presence and he can effortlessly play to the gallery. This is a formulaic film and can be best described only with another cliche- Old wine in a fancy extra-large bottle."
By the end of its first 6 days in theaters, the film had grossed ₹1 billion (US$14 million). The film grossed ₹853.6 million (US$12 million) worldwide in first weekend; USA gross was US$632,000 (equivalent to $673,275 in 2019) and North America (US & Canada) grossed over US$900,000 (equivalent to $958,777 in 2019) as of Sunday (17 April) night. In the United Kingdom, Theri broke Enthiran's box office collection for the first weekend. Enthiran had collected GB£277,918 (equivalent to £305,066 in 2019) in its first weekend and the Atlee directorial has achieved a benchmark figure of GB£280,696 (equivalent to £308,116 in 2019).
- Best Film - Tamil - Nominated
- Best Director - Tamil - Atlee - Nominated
- Best Actor - Tamil - Vijay - Nominated
- Best Actress - Tamil - Samantha Ruth Prabhu - Nominated
- Best Supporting Actor - Tamil - J. Mahendran - Nominated
- Best Supporting Actor - Tamil - Rajendran - Nominated
- Best Supporting Actress - Tamil - Raadhika - Nominated
- Best Music Director - Tamil - G. V. Prakash Kumar - Nominated
- Best Playback Singer - Female - Tamil - Neeti Mohan - Chella Kutti - Nominated
- 4th Behindwoods Gold Medals Ceremony
- People's Choice Director - Atlee
- People's Choice Actor - Vijay
- People's Choice Actress - Samantha Ruth Prabhu
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