India’s official entry to the Oscars is a worthy selection
Though ostensibly a film on the bad fortune of four migrant labourers, this film goes deep in the psyche of those in power. How the very arm of administration that is supposed to ensure our safety is busy scheming its own rise at the cost of our lives. Our security is the least of their concerns, they are more interested in lining their own pockets and paying obeisance to their political masters. It is a system, where the dispossessed have no recourse or hope of any justice. They are here to serve, are expendables that will be taken to the sacrificial alter as and when required. Their lives have no meaning, other than to be used as pawns in the schemes of the mighty.
Pandi (Dinesh Ravi), Murugan (Adukalam Murugadoss), Afsal (Silambarasan Rathnasamy) and Kumar (Pradheesh Raj) are Tamil speaking labourers working in neighbouring Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. They are poor but hard working people who dream of making their lives successful before returning home. Things go horribly wrong for them when a big robbery takes place at an influential person’s home and the only clue the police has is that the robbers spoke Tamil. The police, needing sacrificial lambs to pin the blame on, randomly pick up the labourers. They are frustrated when the four refuse to own up a robbery they did not commit. The film is unrelenting in showing the brutality the four face in lockup just so the officers can get brownie points. It is difficult to watch such a realistic portrayal of police custody “interrogation”, where words are hardly spoken. The sound of “lathi” hitting flesh and cry of helpless men is all that the interrogation comprises.
Fate seems to smile on them when the judge realizes they have been framed and a Tamil police officer Muthuvel (Samuthirakani) vouches for Pandi’s innocence. Indebted to this officer for helping them, they agree to help him in kidnapping a person from the court premises. They have no clue that by trying to repay their debt to Muthuvel, they are becoming part of a larger conspiracy that will bring untold horrors on them.
The person they kidnap, KK (Kishore), is an educated accountant and from a very different social strata than the labourers. KK may not realize it, but for the powerful people running the “system”, he is not that different from the labourers. He, too, is expendable to be destroyed when his purpose is served. KK is being decimated by the same person whose family he helped (a medical seat in this case) because it suits the plan of the masters. Everybody is a pawn for somebody higher.
The film is violent, but the violence is necessary to show how people behave when they are helpless and at the mercy of the same people who they know are going to harm them. This is even more disturbing given that the story of police picking up innocent poor people to confess to a crime is true. The author of the story, auto driver M. Chandrakumar and his friends were picked up by the Police for a crime they did not commit and spent 13 days in lock-up. As per the author, the beatings shown in the film are very real.
At another level, the film is also an exposition on the rotten system we have created with no checks and balances. The politicians use everybody for their own benefit, the Police has been reduced to an arm that carries out the politicians’ dirty jobs. With little accountability and integrity, the police has been reduced to a mercenary force, ready to work for the highest bidder. It is high time to think about policing the Police force.
Visaranai is a deeply unsettling but a profoundly thought-provoking film with superb performances from the cast. Director Vetrimaaran adeptly keeps the story real without diluting the drama or the thrill of the film. Surely, an apt choice for India’s official entry to the Oscars and a very strong contender for the elusive victory!
Rating : 4/5
Starring: Dinesh,Anandhi,Aadukalam Murugadoss, Samuthirakani