In the early portions of the movie Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban, there are so many compromises one can see in terms of making, as it wanted to look like a typical family movie. For a film with someone like Mr. Vetrimaaran as the presenter, the kind of cheesy romantic bits one gets to see in the first half an hour of Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban is a bit odd. But director Ranjit Manikandan aka RDM manages to get it right post this phase. Once the movie enters its core area, the premise is intriguing and what we get to see is a chilling account of misuse of power.
Prabhu and his wife Indhu are living in Chennai in a house that belongs to their friend. Prabhu is working as a food delivery guy for an app, and he is trying his best to get a job abroad. However, one day while Indhu was coming back from work, she gets attacked by a gang. While Indhu and Prabhu were returning from the place where Indhu got attacked, the couple ran into a police checking, and things took a turn for the worst for them. What they had to go through because of the egoistic police officers on duty is what we witness in this 2-hour long drama.
As I said, it is after the first half an hour the movie gets into its zone. After that, the trajectory is somewhat predictable, but RDM manages to make it look alarming and intense simply by keeping things real. When the hero starts to argue with the police at various points in the film, we as an audience will be able to sense the danger in it, just like his wife, Indhu. But the character has this level of honesty in him that we won’t be able to blame him for arguing with the police. The fear that is already there in Indhu and the viewer is slowly getting into Prabhu as well.
As a writer, RDM successfully adds layers to police officers’ mental and physical torture. The brutality never ends with the physical suffering through which Prabhu undergoes. The director takes it a bit forward and shows us how criminal minds inside the system can create narratives and situations even when they are called out publicly. Through his screenplay, Ranjit Manikandan shows us how the system is designed in a way that we will have to depend on the same people who did injustice to us to get justice. The harrowing account of systemic violence shown in the movie is extremely disturbing. Cinematographer KS Vishnushri has opted for seemingly uncut-looking steady-cam shots in the intense portions of the film where our hero is nervous. And the cuts also play a significant role in building the tension.
Suresh Ravi plays the role of Prabhu here, and as I said, it’s a character that demanded a genuine earnestness in his reactions, and Ravi was able to bring that into his performance. Raveena Ravi, as Indhu, is mainly in that always tense mood, but she also managed to deliver a convincing performance. The actor who scored the most, in my opinion, was none other than Mime Gopi, who, as the ego-driven police officer Kannabiran delivered an impeccable performance. Without being overly loud, he depicted the superiority complex in a certain category of police officers effectively. Supergood Subramani gets a memorable role in the movie as a police officer who somewhere acts as a bridge.
One thing I liked about the politics of Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban is that it isn’t trying to blatantly demonize police officers. Instead, it’s a movie that shows how systemic structure plays against the common man and makes people in power believe that they are beyond scrutiny. Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban may not be as disturbing as a Visaaranai, but it has enough juice in it to qualify as a compelling drama.
Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban is a movie that shows how systemic structure plays against the common man and makes people in power believe that they are beyond scrutiny.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended