‘Jagame Thandhiram’ is a Tamil and Telugu action-comedy that jumps international barriers and finds our hero in the middle of a deep humanitarian battle. A gangster movie on the surface, the crime caper finds its relatively small-time gangster frontman caught amidst a massive gang war in London. As his loyalties sway between his countrymen and the riches promised by the powerful British don, Suruli finds himself fighting for a cause bigger than him.
However, that doesn’t mean he’s not going to have a laugh and fall in love on the way. This movie has a little something for everyone, and if its long winding story that spans years and continents left you with a few questions, we might have the answers you seek. Let’s take a closer look at ‘Jagame Thandhiram.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.
Jagame Thandhiram Plot Synopsis
‘Jagame Thandhiram’ opens with the assassination of a pompous young man in London, who we later find out is the nephew of the local don Peter. The racist and xenophobic gangster is waging war on a shadowy gang led by the elusive Sivadoss, who has been gaining power in the city. As a cunning (and slightly racist) ploy, Peter hires a gangster from Madurai, a city in South India, to help outmaneuver Sivadoss, who hails from the same south Indian region and is also Tamil. Soon, the confident Suruli arrives in London and quickly impresses Peter by efficiently uncovering all of Sivadoss’ operations.
Suruli charges Peter outrageous sums of money but delivers on his promise. After a string of successful heists where he bleeds Sivadoss’ operation, Suruli even manages to corner the Tamil gangster under the pretext of a peace talk and helps Peter kill him. The rest of Sivadoss’ gang is also soon wiped out, and Peter, pleased, gives Suruli an entire street in London that the hero renames “Little Madurai.”
With his life looking well established in London, Suruli soon falls for the secretive Attila, who is a Sri Lankan Tamil. He also hires his old friend Murugesan to manage the “parotta” restaurant that Suruli had dreamed of opening in London. Unbeknownst to him, two surviving members of Sivadoss’ gang lurk in the shadows, waiting for the right opportunity to avenge the betrayal of their leader by Suruli. One afternoon, while he is out with Attila, they attack. Suruli, though gravely injured, survives. However, his world is turned upside down when he finds Attila trying to poison his medication and kill him.
Jagame Thandhiram Ending: Why Does Suruli Leave Peter Alive?
Upon being discovered and confronted, Attila recounts her traumatizing history as a survivor of the Civil War in Sri Lanka. Having lost her husband and family during an airstrike, she and her nephew were helped by Sivadoss in seeking asylum in the UK. She then reveals that Sivadoss was a messiah for immigrants as he helped hundreds, including her, who didn’t have a country to call home. Suruli is stunned by the revelation and vows to correct his wrongs after his mother also expresses her disappointment in him.
Soon, Peter, who also has a large stake in private prisons and detention centers, reveals his plot to eventually brand Suruli as a terrorist after getting him to murder a pro-immigration minister, hence killing two birds with one stone. When Suruli discovers this plot, he launches an attack on Peter’s compound with homemade bombs and weapons, which he is an expert at making. With Peter captured, our hero decides to not kill him but instead leaves him stranded on the Afghanistan–Iran border with a passport from a non-existent country.
So Peter is effectively turned into an immigrant with no home country, which in Suruli’s mind is the most fitting outcome for him. This is the biggest factor in him leaving Peter alive instead of killing him. The Suruli we meet at the beginning of the film would have murdered someone for a lot less than the amount of torment that Peter heaped on him. However, it seems like Suruli has found a fate worse than death that he reserves for Peter.
Throughout the film, as he learns more about the plight of immigrants, the hero realizes the depth of hopelessness that people left without a country feel. The story of his friend Murugesan, who spent a lifetime trying to find a home, also opens Suruli’s eyes. The film’s ending focuses on this particular aspect when Suruli says during Murugesan’s funeral that his friend has finally found a piece of land to call his home. Therefore, it is fitting for Suruli to leave Peter, who is responsible for Murugesan’s death, stranded and without any country to call home, while his friend (in death) finally finds a home in Peter’s country.
Suruli also seems to have learned a valuable lesson from his violent gang experiences in London, which is – “War can only be started. It cannot be stopped.” He says as much when his friend asks whether he expects Peter to return. The fact that Suruli leaves Peter alive is also a testament to how much the friendly gangster has changed since his early days. We even see his priorities shift from always working with the highest bidder to helping those in need and staying loyal to his countrymen.
Why Does the Racist Peter Allow the Creation of Little Madurai?
Peter, who is a staunch racist and actively supports the UK’s conservative anti-immigrant policy BICOR through his criminal activities, surprisingly lets Suruli create a small cultural street complete with South Indian shops and restaurants in the middle of one of his neighborhoods in London. He even goes so far as to describe Suruli as his brother, despite referring to him as a “little brown man” at another point. Of course, it is later revealed that Peter was only being good to Suruli so that he could use him and later brand him as a terrorist, which would serve his anti-immigrant rhetoric.
However, it doesn’t change the fact that Peter goes against all his alleged ideals by giving the “brown man” an entire street of the city. Despite being shown surrounded by Nazi and KKK paraphernalia, the obnoxiously racist and xenophobic Peter is happy to work with anyone, as long as it benefits him. When we first see him at the beginning of the movie, he kills off 2 immigrant men and then also murders the local white woman who complained against them. Similarly, the minister who he targets to kill is a white Britisher like him.
Hence, Peter repeatedly proves that despite him advertising himself as a racist, he is willing to support anyone who serves his self-interest. Peter allowing Suruli to set up “Little Madurai” is similarly motivated by his self-interest in having the wily Indian gangster work for him. Hence, his racist ideas are hollow and take a back seat to power and wealth for Peter.
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