Director Vetri Maaran's latest outing which revolves around police brutality, is a disturbing and gripping watch
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Soori in Viduthalai Part 1
Last Updated: 02.44 PM, Apr 29, 2023
Story: When an honest constable is roped in for an operation to capture the fugitive leader of a separatist group, his life takes a dramatic turn.
Review: It's not often that the very first scene of a film makes you sit up and take notice. With a brilliantly filmed opening shot of a train accident that depicts the aftermath of a bombing, resulting in a gruesome tragedy, Vetri Maaran wastes no time in getting into the thick of action.
Also Read: Viduthalai: Here's why Vetri Maaran's film starring Soori and Vijay Sethupathi is a must watch
Viduthalai is set in 1987 when the Makkal Padai ( a separatist group) insurgency is at its peak in a hilly terrain of Tamil Nadu. The plot is quite straightforward. The politicians have tied up with a mega corporation, which is all set to invest in infrastructure in the hilly terrain and in this case, mining. However, there is a huge roadblock to the project, courtesy the Makkal Padai, who believe that development comes at the cost of depletion of natural resources and destruction of the ecosystem.
The leader of the group is Perumal (Vijay Sethupathi), who is referred as a ghost by a policeman as no one knows his whereabouts. The police soon launch Operation Ghosthunt, to hunt down the 'ghost' and his accomplices. The villagers of the region,who consider Perumal their mentor, and lovingly call him Vaathiyar, do not provide a single clue to the police about him. They believe that the police are the 'bad guys'.
It's here that police constable Kumaresan (Soori) is roped in for work, who becomes our eyes and ears throughout the film. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Soori has delivered his career-best performance as the upright cop Kumaresan. He is so brilliant in the film that we begin to wonder where was this side of Soori hiding all these years? Along with Kumaresan, we explore the good and bad sides of both camps. As Soori pens his thoughts through his letters to his mother, we cannot help but be in his shoes.
Vijay Sethupathi might have only fleeting moments in the film, but in each and everyone of those, he shines and gets some major whistle-worthy 'mass' moments. In fact, you end up feeling his presence throughout the story. But giving Vijay Sethupathi some intense competition in those scenes is Soori, who fabulously transitions into a heroic action hero towards the end of the film. Soori also tests waters in romance and his relationship with Paapa aka Tamizharasi (a fantastic Bhavani Sre) has our heart. While Ilaiyaraaja's lilting Kattu Malli is a treat to watch on screen, the second romantic single Onnoda Nadandha doesn't create the same impact. The veteran composer, however, aces the scenes with some power-packed background score.
The film's cinematography deserves a special mention as Velraj seems to be in his element. The drone shot atop the hill during Soori's maiden trek uphill where the camera keeps rising depicting the magnitude of the forest is sheer brilliance. While in one scene, you are shaken witnessing a brutal tragedy, and on the other, you revel in the lush greenery during the romantic tracks, and the tone of cinematography effortlessly segues from one mood to another.
Viduthalai is packed with many raw and gut-wrenching moments, be it the scene where a man's nails are pulled out in custody, a naked pregnant woman thrashed on her head mercilessly or the scene where a bunch of woman are packed like sardines in a room and all stripped naked and tortured. Some of the scenes can seem like sheer torture to watch, but it looks like the director wanted to depict the violence as it is.
Even with so many grim scenes, the film manages to evoke laughter with some lighter moments. Take for instance, the scene where policemen complain about having chow chow for their meal every single day or where Soori tries to offer coffee to his senior officers.
While Rajiv Menon is fitting as the senior officer A Subramaniyam, Gautham Menon who plays Sunil Menon, the officer in-charge of Operation Ghost Hunt , who first tries to win over the confidence of the villagers and later adopts the same strategy as his junior Raghavendar (Chethan, who also delivers a convincing performance), manages to impress, too. Throughout the film, Kumaresan has to bear the brunt of one of his actions as he did not cower in front of Raghavendar, thus giving a peek of how a police constable like Kumaresan is treated by the authorities.
With Viduthalai, Vetri Maaran is completely in his zone and delves into police brutality, caste discrimination and abuse of power with finesse. The film leaves you shaken and triggered, as it should be.
Verdict: Viduthalai scores on all corners, be it the plot, narration, background score, acting performances, cinematography and not to forget, the filmmaking. A brilliant film from the Vetri Maaran stable!