Viduthalai - Part 1 Tamil Movie

Feature Film | 2023 | Crime, Drama
The film is an ode to the the civilian lives that were lost to police brutality and other such bureuacratic disorders.
Mar 31, 2023 By Baranidharan Sivasankaran

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A 'Vetrimaran film' is a firebrand among South Indian movie buffs. One of the biggest reasons is the narration. He is a storyteller who has immense mastery over his craft. Mentored by the legendary director Balu Mahendra, Vetrimaran has carved out a niche for himself over the last 15 years.

With just seven features (including a short film for the anthology, 'Paava Kathaikal') in his career, Vetrimaran prioritizes quality over quantity and often draws inspiration from socio-political stories, typically from renowned novels.

Based on Jeyamohan's novel 'Thunaivan,' "Viduthalai - Part 1" is a two-part movie that follows Kumaresan (Soori), a constable, who is posted as a driver in a militant-infested hilly remote region of Tamil Nadu. The militant group is led by 'Perumal Vathiyaar', whose face is unknown to the cops. He is a ghost, so they start an 'operation ghost hunt'.

The opening scene immediately sets a grim and raw tone, showcasing the aftermath of a train bombing and the devastation it caused. The rawness slaps on our faces as the camera traverses through the eyes of a photojournalist who captures the remains of the mangled train compartments among the wounded, amputated, and deceased. Wails and cries fill the air, grim scenes fill the screen, and a sly political angle intrudes the proceedings, making it murkier.

Through a voice-over by the director, the audience is made aware of the militant operations in the Northern part of Tamil Nadu in the early 80s and 90s, which may be less known compared to the Northern and Northeastern parts of India.

The police brutality against civilians who support the rebel group was the most vocal political commentary that was exhibited on screen. After 'Jai Bhim', this one has created an impact. Chethan as the perverted officer in charge of the camp, is sure to earn the wrath of the audience. It showcases the complexity and the deft bureaucracy that exists within the system.

Soori, as the innocent and passionate constable, has the role of his lifetime. It outlines a director's role in shaping an actor's character with lines that suit the persona. In the past, we have seen Soori in the goofiest of roles, but herein we see him as 'Kumaresan', the innocent man who struggles to strike a balance between his heart and mind. His actions and emotions were natural. His commitment reflects on the screen.

Vijay Sethupathy as 'Perumal Vathiyaar', the leader of the militant group was just introduced in flesh towards the movie's climax. Although his character is the anchor on which the entire movie is spun, he gets very limited exposure. He makes an impact and will do so even more in the second installment of the movie.

Bhavani as Tamilarasi was the apt choice to play the role of a girl from that region. Her pairing with Soori looked natural and went with the flow. Her expressions were subtle, and she did not try to overdo it. A balanced and neat performance. Similarly, Gautham Menon as a cop and Rajiv Menon as the chief secretary represented the face of the "system".

The supporting characters were equally impressive. 'Munnar' Ramesh is a regular in many Vetrimaran films and makes an impression here as a cop. Ilavarasu as a politician was convincing.

The attention to detail in portraying police formalities and hierarchy, including the punishment for subordinates who do not obey orders from superiors and the officers' biases towards individuals, adds depth to the narrative.

The music by Ilayaraja and the cinematography by Velraj elevate the film's quality. The songs blend well with the narrative, and the background score enhances the gripping moments. Cinematographer Velraj has captured the hilly terrains with poise. The camera travels to unknown spaces, cramping into nooks and corners to bring out the rawness in the script.

This movie is by far the most vocal political commentary by director Vetrimaran. Though he declares that this story is fictional at the beginning, one who is slightly familiar with the dark history of Tamil Nadu can easily relate to the region and people who have been affected by police and political brutality. It is a whack on the system that favored capitalism at the cost of endangering natural resources. A royal salute to director Vetrimaran and the entire team of Viduthalai. Can't wait for Part 2!

Baranidharan Sivasankaran



best film to watch. never regret. will watch few more times also.