At the end of Viduthalai Part 1, Vetri Maaran teases the audience with the footage from the upcoming second part, which almost looks like a lazily edited trailer. Looking at the dramatic moments in those visuals, I am more excited about that Part 2, which will be more political and to the point. Viduthalai Part 1, as a single movie, cannot be called a hard-hitting film as the emphasis is mainly on building that world around constable Kumaresan. On a combined watch, there is a possibility that Viduthalai could well be as impressive as a Visaranai.
The movie is set in the 80s, and it is about this forest area in Tamil Nadu where a rebel force is in guerilla warfare against the police as they oppose the arrival of an industry giant. The police had the task of destroying this force led by a man named Perumal, aka Vaathiyar, as the government wanted to give the state an industry-friendly tag. The police hunt for Perumal and the People’s Force and the brutality that happened with those who empathized with Perumal are what we witness in the film.
Like most of his other films, here also, Vetri Maaran is exploring the system versus the oppressed theme. His hero, Kumaresan, is someone who doesn’t feel revolt is a necessity despite facing discrimination in the workplace from higher officers. The placement of the power arch in order to showcase the politics is done neatly. But like I said, a good chunk of the core is happening in the future segment, and hence you are kind of leaving the theater when you were about to feel for those characters. Having said that, it is not a zero-impact preachy drama. The climax chase and police torture that happens parallelly really set the ball rolling for a thumping part 2.
The film opens with a lengthy single-take shot of a train accident caused by a mine blast. Velraj’s frames cover the perspective of politicians, bureaucrats, media persons, and victims, and the scale of that shot somewhere gives you an idea about the intensity of that event. Vetri Maaran then reduces the tempo as he introduces the naive protagonist Kumaresan to the audience and the real world. Kumaresan is a righteous guy who never apologizes to his senior for helping an ailing old lady. The sidelining that’s there within the system and the way the police treat the villagers are shown in the signature Vetri Maaran way with bloodshed. The climax sequence of the movie that has Kumaresan going against the Vaathiyar as he wants to save those innocents who rooted for Vaathiyar was a great presentation of irony mixed with a dilemma.
Soori, in the most subtle performance in his entire career, felt like a perfect choice for a character like Kumaresan. Kumaresan is no hero, and his deeds come out of empathy. Kumaresan is very much like a tool for Vetri Maaran to narrate the story, as his idea about oppression is vague. We are shown the narrative Kumaresan hears from a fellow constable. Then in a different context, we are shown the actual truth. Soori, through his performance, made sure that Kumaresan’s innocence, ignorance, and benevolence never came across as unreal. Vijay Sethupathi’s character has only two or three scenes in the film. But the guy has that aura and grace to be that mentor figure in his performance. Gautham Vasudev Menon as the police chief was good. Chetan, as the casteist superior, portrayed the character very effectively. Bhavani Sre as the native girl Tamilarasi was also pretty impressive.
Compared to the other films Vetri Maaran has made, Viduthalai Part 1 is not necessarily the most hard-hitting film. But like how Gangs of Wasseypur is considered as a single film now, I think the two parts combined will have an impact that one expects in a Vetri Maaran film. Go in with the expectation of seeing the first half of a five-hour-long movie, then this flick won’t let you down.
Like how Gangs of Wasseypur is considered as a single film now, I think the two parts combined will have an impact that one expects in a Vetri Maaran film.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended