Thotti Jaya ★★★½

the opening credits, in which orphaned dish washer thotti jaya goes from cringing in fear to learning that violence is his key to survival, are one of the great true masala sequences of the 2000s. at its best this film boils the form down to its elemental core. if it's all a little thin that final fight - simbu covered in blood, the wind (machine) and flying leaves, the burned out highs from the spot lights in the night photography, the futility of the central conflict - moves this into a totally different realm.

and has one of the sweetest romantic moments of the era - after loner simbu has escorted lost rich girl gopika back home he goes to street vendor and reflexively ordered two chais instead of one.