Visaaranai – Movie Review
**** No Spoilers ****
Director Vetrimaaran is one of the those rarely seen finest filmmakers who is known for his uncompromising & unadulterated products. He is one filmmaker who invests so much of time and himself in the process of crafting a film. After his second film AADUKALAM in 2011 which won 6 National awards, he took a brief gap of 2 years to develop his next script SOOTHADI. He began the shooting of SOOTHADI with Dhanush and Parthiban in lead roles in early 2014, but few weeks after the shooting, he felt that he needed some more time to make the execution of the script into a film even more perfect. Then, he began VISAARANAI in mid 2014 and completed the shoot in a very short span; VISAARANAI was premiered at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival and Amnesty International Italy’s ‘Cinema for Human Rights Award’. The film was highly appreciated by officers like Sahayam IAS and top actors and filmmakers such as Rajini, Kamal, Maniratnam and Anurag Kashyap.
‘Visaaranai’ film is inspired from the true and horrific experience of Chandra Kumar, a Coimbatore-based auto-rickshaw driver who wrote a book, ‘Lock Up’, narrating his nightmarish 13 days in a police station. Four poor youngsters from Tamilnadu who are working as daily-wage earning laborers at Guntur, are picked up by the Police and forced to confess to a theft they did not commit. These 4 youngsters face deadly torture from the Police, since they are under great pressure to solve a robbery case in a higher official’s house. What happens then forms the crux of the film.
The film basically deals with police’s upper handedness on common man and innocent people, their inhuman brutality, corruption & politics inside this system and the loss of innocence in the face of injustice. The first half shows the blood-shedding inhuman methods followed by the Police to make the accused confess the truth, which are dreadfully frightening! The second half moves as an edge of the seat thriller that shows the politics, corruption and other dirty pages of the Police and Politicians’ relationship.
In Tamil cinema, such films are a rarity where we are shown about the corruption inside the Police department, how the whole system functions and how a Common man suffers due to it. Films like ‘Vazhakku En 18/9’, ‘Mouna Guru’, ‘Evano Oruvan’ and ‘Kirumi’ dealt with this issue partially. There has never been such a bold and intense full-length movie on this plot. Glad that a book such as ‘Lock Up’ reached the safe hands of a director like Vetrimaaran; it would have been a melodramatic / cinematic disaster if it was someone else!
The technical team and casting was of great support to the film. Cinematography, Editing and Background Score were all so much cohesive to the film’s narration, adding great value. ‘Attakathi’ Dinesh as the innocent Paandi has done a great job, his expressions and reactions look so real both in the scenes like where he gets beaten and while he cries to save his friend’s life in the climax. Both Dinesh and ‘Aadukalam’ Murugadoss must have gone through a lot of physical and mental pain to bring so much perfection on screen. There lies the team’s effort! Samudhirakani as the sincere cop has just nailed it with an extra-ordinary performance; he is evolving as one of the finest performers by scoring distinction, whatever may be the role given. All other supporting artists including Kishore, Anandhi, Misha Ghoshal, Pradeesh Raj and Ajay Ghosh have done their part strikingly. The director’s touches such as not adding subtitles to the heroine’s dialogues, to make the audience feel like the protagonist (who does not understand the language) were remarkable!
The film reveals so many unpalatable facts very boldly, the harsh reality that you will not want to believe! The various brutal and callous methods followed by the police as part of the custodial tortures, the set-up suicides, the police’s direct involvement with corrupted politicians and the ways they choose to divert or mislead a case, influencing the doctors and other teams on getting fake postmortem and forensic reports in crime scenes, setting up fake encounters and finally presenting a cooked-up story for the media and also driving things till a debate show to be conducted on the same lines are all such shockers to know! The dialogues are so boldly written and straight-to-the-point, such as ‘Inga system dhan peruse… Naama ellaam verum pawns’, ‘Did I ask you to catch the thieves? Can’t you close the case?’ and ‘Adhigaaringa solradhai seiradhu dhaana namma velai, adhai senjuttu poitte iruppom’.
Our feelings for the central characters grow so much and our blood pressure rises towards the end , particularly in the scene where the team of Police discusses inside a room on what is to be done next. In the pre-climax scene, where one of the lead characters says pitifully ‘Sir… Naanga venaa adutha oru vaarathukkulla, unga ellaar veettaiyum vandhu sutham pannidurom sir’, it really leaves a lump in the throat!
In the climax where Pandi’s friend asks a question ‘Naama endha thappumey pannala, namakku edhuvum aagaadhu nu sonniye.. Namakku yen ipdi aachu?’, neither Pandi nor us have an answer! You will leave the cinema hall with that question, which will steal your sleep. For sure, ‘Visaaranai’ will be remembered as one of the most important films in Indian cinema!!
Verdict: A film beyond reviews and rating! Do yourself a favour, watch this cinematic gem and honour yourself!!
Review by: Rahman
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