Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Visaaranai - Takes one Hope away, Gives one too!

After my Visaaranai show last evening, as I walked through a quiet stairway in the mall, I was suspicious and got wary of a loner walking behind me and had him in the corner of my eye. I had the same feeling when I was in the elevator, again, with only one other person giving company. Though these lasted just for seconds, that was the sort of impact the film had on me. The assumption that other humans can be trusted for no reason seemed to have been tested!

There are films like Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption & the recent The Revenant which offer hope to mankind reminding us of the greatness humans can soar to and there are films like Visaaranai, which provide us with a stark reminder on the other extreme humans can hit to save themselves.

Vetrimaaran has taken his time to come up with this tale and one can see why he needed that if one were to observe the efforts gone into its making right from the tiny details like the indistinct yet relevantly written mumblings from the wireless police devices to the water-tight screenplay that keeps us glued to the proceedings. It would be a sin if I were to not mention the little symbolic touches that make tremendous impact on us as he takes us through this cinematic experience. To mention a few:

  • The choice of Ayudha Pooja for the setup didn't seem random to me. That's one festival with which you can bring the motif 'Cleaning' into the picture. The repeated emphasis on 'cleaning' the Police Station is a clear dig at the corruption that has rendered the office impure. A special kudos for the twice-repeated "AC Ayya irukarapo Clean  panna varaadha thambi" which sends the message on the percolation of corruption and its degree even at the north side of the system's hierarchy
  • Murugan, as he gleefully observes Tamil Police being benevolent in contrast to their counterparts from Andhra Pradesh, is shown to add waste to the dustbin without noticing it is piled up with garbage to its brim. His ignorance of the piled up garbage outside is his ignorance of the corrupt nature of the men inside
  • The callousness of the officers and the significance (or the lack of it) offered to the value of the lives of our heroes is brought forth in three simple, yet shuddering sequences. 
Scene 1: Happens in the verandah of the R.K. Puram Police Station. The head officer clad in lungi readies himself for his ploy of making our heroes 'accept' to having done the crime they weren't actually part of. As he begins his dressing down session, he shows resent over the quality of the Palm-husk readied by his sub-ordinates for the beating even as our heroes squeal in extreme pain and suffering
Scene 2: Happens in the first floor of the police complex as AC, DC orchestrate (sorry about the intended pun) the plan to seal off an internal gaffe. The DC is shown to cooly apply drops to his eyes not once, but twice as they discuss limiting the duration of the lives of the insignificant few in the building
Scene 3: Happens in the nondescript house when a police officer (known for clearing up goof-ups) calmly offers consolation while he puts the handcuffs on the insignificant ones as they shiver in shock  seeing one of their own slowly lose his life's battle against the bullet
  • A hint of the final scene is given much earlier,  through the last words of wisdom the captured auditor offers to the Officer in-charge of his arrest: "Naalaiku vera yaarayo vechu unna mudipaanga; 'This' game ends there". The presage is not so much about the imminent death of the officer as it is about the one who does it. 'Vera yaarayo' & 'This' are key here. Not many of us would have expected I-2's Chandran to be that Yevano Oruvan when he is introduced in the film. That's the scary point. When you are a victim of the evils of the system, you are bound to be silenced by someone who you may not even have met. The film could have easily continued with Chandran being silenced by someone else. He becomes the victim the moment he kills the officer. That's another game, for another day!
  • I'm not sure if I was reading too much into it but I felt the winding single-shot in the decisive scene where the DC meets our insignificant heroes of the tale was deliberate. The shot begins as the camera panes and travels behind the DC into the washroom & takes a U-turn as it comes out following our heroes who are led downstairs. That's the moment when their lives take the 'U-turn' and it's only downhill for them from there!

Going beyond these little magical touches, the film presents a pressing case of how men who don't have the ultimate power are all mere players in the game designed by the opportune few at the top. Our heroes fall prey to Police officers from Guntur and Chennai, who have no go other than to devise their wily ways of torturing the hopeless lot to escape from ones who instruct them to meet their monthly numbers, who have their own wily ways of minting money from the power centres to compensate for the loss of their conscience when put into such irrecoverable wormholes of situations.

This one focused on the Police system, on how the men who can influence the system rig it to suit their needs with no concern for anything outside of their needs. But this can be extended to any system that man has created; any system he can bend to suit his desires. It could be you, it could be me at the receiving end of it. Think of it - We all already are, in a few cases.

Visaaranai takes away hope - The hope that your life is always in your control;

Visaaranai gives hope - The hope that there still are film-makers who can genuinely make you think a lot about films & how you actually are part of the stories some of them make.

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