There have been a lot of movies coming from the Tamil industry that dealt with the prevalent caste politics in the state, and people like Pa. Ranjith and Maari Selvaraj have been at the forefront of that. The latest film, Blue Star, starring Ashok Selvan and Shanthanu Bhagyaraj, is another addition to the list of anti-caste movies, and this movie by S Jayakumar uses the backdrop of cricket to say its politics. While the political intentions are not becoming too loud, the format of this underdog story is pretty generic, making it watchable in totality.
The movie is set against the backdrop of Chennai’s Arakkonam, and the story happening in the mid-90s. Ranjith and Rajesh are captains of two rival cricket teams, and they both belong to different castes. The rivalry between the communities had made playing cricket in that town somewhat difficult because of something violent that happened six years ago. The rivalry took a different turn when the lower caste Ranjith and intermediate caste Rajesh faced discrimination from the superior caste members. How that changes the dynamic of the feud and what all unfolds after that is what we get to see in Blue Star.
With Selva RK’s editing style in the initial patches of the movie, which feels like blinking of the eye, Jayakumar establishes the movie’s premise in a very swift manner. Then, he decides to invest in those characters and their backdrops to make us root for them when the second half enters that typical underdog story. While most of the other creations in the category had opted for a bitter tale of discrimination, Jayakumar opts for an optimistic one where two rival communities are actually joining hands for a bigger cause. Even though it is a bit too optimistic, Jayakumar is not pushing it too much to make things look utopian.
The inability of the writing to rise above the cliched beats of an underdog story is the movie’s biggest drawback. I really liked how they created this lover character of Ranjith, Anandhi, who is not there to be a mere romantic interest. She knows Chris Cains and Michael Beven. She wanted to bat in the ground, and she even criticized Ranjith’s team’s poor fielding efforts. However, once the movie enters the tournament phase, there is hardly any surprise in the narrative. The political statements they are trying to make or the way the caste realities make it difficult for the heroes is what gives it any novelty. The graph of Blue Star is highly fluctuating in the second half as the movie shuttles between generic beats and some cheesy yet interesting cinematic elements. Govind Vasantha’s music is really catchy, and Railin Oligal has been on my playlist for a long time.
As the blackfaced Ranjith, Ashok Selvan has done a fine job shuttling between rage and romance. The body language he carries in the film makes his portrayal pretty believable. Shanthanu Bhagyaraj, as Rajesh, is given a character that sort of has a varied spectrum of emotions. From being an arrogant casteist person, Rajesh witnesses the political reality around him, and Shanthanu gets to play with all these conflicting emotions. Keerthy Pandian, even though the role was sort of small, gives a really memorable performance as the raw and motivating companion with a lot of passion. Bhagavathy Perumal, as Immanuel, gets a character that is really out of his zone, and the man nailed it with a controlled performance. Malayalam actor Saju Navodaya is there in an interesting role, and for some weird reason, the movie’s opening credits had his name as Paashanam Shaji (A different screen name for Tamil, I guess).
Blue Star is an attempt to create an optimistic, easy-going film around Ambedkarite politics. Even though the structure of the screenplay is very generic and predictable, there are certain moments in the movie that work due to the emotional energy or the performances one gets to see in those scenes. With the narrative having an engaging momentum from beginning to end, Blue Star is a passable political film with a lot of familiar writing tropes.
With the narrative having an engaging momentum from beginning to end, Blue Star is a passable political film with a lot of familiar writing tropes.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended