Popcorn Monkey Tiger movie review: Mean streets

Popcorn Monkey Tiger movie review: Mean streets
Popcorn Monkey Tiger is helmed by Soori.

Popcorn Monkey Tiger actors: Niveditha, Dhananjay
Popcorn Monkey Tiger director: Soori
Popcorn Monkey Tiger ratings: 3 stars

Popcorn, Monkey and Tiger are the nicknames of the lead characters of director Soori or should I say Duniya Soori’s latest movie. Soori is an auteur in his own right. Like Martin Scorsese, he is at his best when telling stories of the mean streets of Bengaluru. And with his new movie, he dives deep into the city’s street culture of refusing to call one by his or her real name. It is even an unwritten rule to have a powerful and catchy prefix before your birth name, should you wish to climb up the food chain of the city’s underworld.

Mooga is a term used for people with speech-impairment. But, in the film, it is the street name of a rowdy-sheeter, who is well-versed in multiple languages. And there is Khushka (rice dish), Galeeju (dirty), Kotambari (coriander), Sugar, Havrani (a reptile) to name a few. Some nicknames make sense because they are usually inspired by the personal traits of their subject, but others don’t make sense.

Seena (Dhananjay) aka Monkey Seena doesn’t like his street name. And this movie is all about Monkey Seena trying to become Tiger Seena. He is called Monkey because of his love for eating loads of bananas. Someone in his friends’ circle would have called him that unceremoniously during a friendly banter. It doesn’t matter how you get a nickname, but once you are rechristened on the streets, there is no going back, you will have to take it to your grave.

Seena is a car mechanic, but his friendship with Mooga sucks him into a vicious cycle, which he can’t escape from. He soon starts painting houses (a euphemism for contract killing) for his friend. And so he begins to become a force to be reckoned with on the streets. Yes, this movie tells you that “if you live by the sword/gun, you will die by the sword/gun.” Soori has been poetic when writing an end to his characters. For example, a gangster called Razor Gopi gets his throat slit by a razor. But, this is not just another movie about the rise and fall of a gangster. Of course, it tracks Seena’s rise and fall but through the prism of his relationship choices. They say the secret to one’s success depends on who we marry. And it can also be said in negative. The reason behind one’s defeat also depends on who we marry.

There is no such thing as balance in life. One minute, he rolls around in his own pee after his school sweetheart breaks up with him. The next minute, he takes a vacation to the seaside with his new girlfriend. Take, for example, Popcorn Devi (Niveditha). She came out of prison with her newborn baby, lost her bag and falls asleep at a public bus stand allowing her child to be kidnapped. As she goes on to survive, she becomes so strong and powerful that finding a meal or roof over the head is no longer her concern.

Popcorn Monkey Tiger tells us that the street keeps giving you everything you want if you know how to survive. But, one day, it may also take back everything you have in a blink of a second. So play the field while you can, and when the end is here accept it with a smile.

Whatever happens to Popcorn, Monkey/Tiger, the street won’t stop. Life goes on, and people move on.

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