There is a B and C center audience in Tamil Nadu who is okay with a Kadaikutty Singham and Namma Veettu Pillai. And there are a lot of commercially successful films of similar nature where you clearly can sense the absence of subtlety in narration and presentation. Vetri Maaran’s Asuran is in a way his tweaked approach to convey an important political message to an audience who must see this film. Asuran is definitely not Vetri Maaran’s best film to date. But it has all the potential to be his most impactful film. A star like Dhanush doing a role like this is really a great sign for responsible, collective filmmaking.
Siva Saamy is a farmer who wasn’t willing to give away his land to an upper cast guy named Vaddakuran who wanted to build a cement factory in the land owned by Siva Saamy. Vaddakuran repeatedly tortured Siva Saamy’s family and only Siva Saamy’s elder son Vel Murugan responded to it. This endurance of pain of the Siva Saamy family and where it eventually puts them in life is what Asuran showing us.
There is a movement that is happening in Tamil Cinema where filmmakers like Vetri Maaran, Pa Ranjith and Mari Selvaraj are trying boldly to narrate the story of the Dalits and the suppressed ones. Be it a mainstream masala movie like Kaala or the politically hard-hitting Pariyerum Perumal, these filmmakers are trying to speak the politics a majority wants to avoid. In Asuran, Vetri Maaran is adamant about the fact that his movie should reach the masses. We have elaborate dialogues, detailing done through voice-over and multiple fight sequences where our hero is in a killing spree. While all that seems like a typical format of a Tamil mainstream movie, there is a political undercurrent to it. If Article 15 had that moment where Dalit women were killed for asking a Rs 3 hike in their salary, here we get to see people getting burnt to death for wearing footwear. It’s actually those powerful moments in the second half that make Asuran a politically fearless film.
Dhanush shows his flexibility through Asuran. He plays the father of a 20+-year-old boy and has great hold on how to carry that character. The body language has been portrayed brilliantly and the way he performs the self-control of the character was also great to watch. Manju Warrier as Pachaiyammal is also excellent. She may not have lengthy screen time in this film, but the strong and earthy character was portrayed effectively by the actress. Teejay Arunasalam as Vel Murugan had the charm to be the fearless one. Ken Karunas as the young one was convincing in being that boy who gradually understands the gravity of the situation. Pasupathy as the brother-in-law was good. Prakash Raj chips in with an extended cameo-like role and he was effective.
The touch of Vetri Maaran is more evident only in the second half of Asuran. The second half, that reveals who Siva Saamy was has a lot to do with the movie’s emotional depth. Asuran is actually a tale that talks about the two events where Siva Saamy lost his cool. And Siva Saamy being the representative of the oppressed, you can sense the director saying there will be a reaction to things if acceptance is not there. And in the climax we see a smiling Siva Saamy along with a composed Chidambaram and Vetri Maaran plugs the importance of education at the right moment. GV Prakash Kumar’s background score is truly impressive. Vel Raj captures the intensity of the situation effectively through his frames.
As I said in the beginning, the success of Asuran or what makes it a recommended movie is the fact that a very important issue of class divide is getting presented in the mainstream cinema with a popular star like Dhanush portraying the hero’s role. The elaboration in scenes and the over the top fights are somewhat a mismatch to the seriousness of the film. But there are some hard-hitting political realities of rural India in this Vetri Maaran cinema.
What makes Asuran a recommended movie is the fact that an important issue of class-divide is getting presented in the mainstream cinema with a popular star like Dhanush portraying the hero’s role.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended