There is a new Tamil film in the theatres. It’s produced by Pa Ranjith and directed by Franklin Jacob. But weirdly no one is talking about the film on social media. It is unlikely that cultural icons or intellectuals will even bother mentioning about it. By any chance even if they mention it, they are most likely to wash their hands off it later on. Because this political film talks about a Dalit research student who is thrown into jail citing UAPA and later kills him during a police encounter.
It might not be as powerful as last year’s Karnan, directed by Mari Selvaraj. This is Franklin’s first film. If one considers the relevance of the theme, one can forgive the minor flaws in the execution. You can imagine its significance when it's produced by Pa Ranjith who thinks cinema should have social relevance and he is known to back such films. Clearly, he felt this was a film that needed to be made. The film which was released, during Xmas in Tamil Nadu, was released here only this week.
Police officer Thangaraj who has a few days left to retire is the writer of a police station. His career has been a witness to the severe caste bias, sectarianism, and oppression in the police force. Thangaraj, who had approached the court seeking an organization for the ordinary police in the Tamil Nadu police department is transferred to Chennai as part of retaliation and deployed to patrol there.
Thangaraj is assigned to guard a Ph.D. student who has been picked illegally by the police. He is doing research at Madras University. The police have imprisoned him at various lodges without specifying the reason. They haven’t even registered his arrest. One day they release him, create a fake encounter and arrest him on the charges of UAPA. The commissioner and inspector find out that it is Thangaraj who not just reports this incident to the media but also hires a lawyer for him. Can Thangaraj fight against his own police force to rescue the Dalit research student?
Thangaraj is safe in the hands of Samuthirakani who is very effective. Though she is only there for a few scenes, Iniya who plays a horse-riding cop is surprisingly good. JM Sundar who plays a lawyer is also impressive. Most of the actors, be it Subramanyam Shiva or Dileepan are really good.
Through the tailender portions, the director underlines what exactly he wanted to convey through the film. The young writer, who replaces Thangaraj, is standing in the witness box in court to stand up for justice. Behind him, there is a picture of Dr. Ambedkar. The name 'Writer' appears in red letters below this image of Ambedkar. In this last shot, the director makes it clear that in his mind Ambedkar is the 'writer' of a country's judicial system and human rights.
The film has the same cinematic quality and colour tone as that of an average Tamil art film. Govind Vasantha's music blends seamlessly into the narrative. More than anything else, this is a film that speaks important politics and therefore a necessary watch. The film should be discussed at least in Kerala, where the Left government itself is imposing UAPA on the youth