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DVD Review

DVD cover

Gangs of Tooting Broadway


Starring: Oliver Cotton, Elizabeth Henstridge and San Shella
Koch Media
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 04 February 2013

Having escaped life destined to end in gang violence, Arun is drawn back home when his brother is implicated in a possible crime, but returning home also means returning to his past and the responsibilities that he tried to leave behind...

Gangs of Tooting Broadway (2013 - 1 hr, 26 min, 05 sec) is an inner city thriller from first time director, Devanand Shanmugam, from a Tikiri Hulugalle script.

The story follows Arun as he returns home, back to his estranged mother and brother as well as the spectre of the woman he left behind getting married. A war has broken out between the Tamil gangs, of which Arun’s brother, Ruthi, is a member and a local afro-Caribbean gang, who have raided a brothel and killed a Tamil prostitute, a friend of them all.

As Arun tries to stop the impeding war he is confronted by his past love as well as discovering that things are not always what they seem. The film ends in a WTF twist that I didn’t see coming.

There is much to commend in the film, but let’s start with the most glaring error. The film has a real problem in establishing Arun as a sympathetic character; almost as soon as he is introduced the film engages in a series of flashbacks which adds little to the main plot, apart from establishing various characters relationships. The flashbacks are intrusive in the main narrative and frankly confusing. Little information is actually gained that could not have been imparted in a more concise and effective way. This structural choice goes a long way to derail what is otherwise a fairly decent thriller.

The cast is made up of a selection of actors who have mainly worked in television and a lot for whom this is their first professional job. For the most part the actors do a decent job with their parts. Of course, as an independent, there are times when the quality slips, but thankfully not that often. Nav Sidhu (Arun) has a brooding quality, perfect for the role, but he is often out acted by first timer, Kabelan Verlkumar (Ruthi).

As far as marking is concerned, I try to judge like for like, so an independent will be judged against its contemporaries, not Hollywood blockbusters or the films of Orson Wells. In that vein the film wasn’t too bad; certainly it passes the midpoint of acceptability.

A lot of critics were overly harsh with the film, but considering it was made on a shoestring, by a first time director and a young and relatively inexperienced cast it’s unfair to judge it against the cream of large budget professional films.

The disc provided was a DVD screener, so no extras, a letterboxed picture, of reasonable quality, but it brings the overall score down.


Charles Packer

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