– The trailer of this film was foreboding to say the least. I was having my own doubts whether I should go watch this. Cos from the trailer the impression I had was this was a film that was going to be about the never-ending misery of some prison inmates.
– Somehow, since I had nothing else to do over chinese new year weekend, I went to Rex at Golden Mile with a friend to catch this film. I remember grabbing the popcorn early and hurrying to finish it before the movie starts. Just in case I lose my appetite.
– I was extremely relieved during the interval. I knew almost every shot from the trailer was over by now. So second half is going to have stuff I’ve not even glimpsed. And so I was excited.
– What differentiates this film from any other routine treatment of such hard-hitting subjects is the second half. Vetrimaaran shows you the problem is bigger than we imagine. He shows us the System can get to anyone. Anybody can turn evil when it comes to self-preservation.
– I liked the opening sequence. We see Dinesh wake up, have a bath in freezing cold water, cycle to a roadside barber shop to comb his hair, and then head over to open a departmental store. We don’t get snippets of his interactions with anyone back home. Nothing else is shown to “establish his character”. After this we are directly taken to him getting beat up. I liked the abrupt nature of this. The screenplay throws us right in the midst of these characters getting beaten up that along with them we are left to wonder and piece the puzzle together.
– I liked how the department store owner is the only person Dinesh can call for help and yet he too is a puny man when faced with the system. He is torn between what the police tell him and what he knows about the guy working in his shop.
– The movie steers away from explicitly asking us to cry for the characters. Even as they are taken away to be killed off, Dinesh’s friend keeps talking about helping to clean every officer’s house. Although his words are explicitly about cleaning, everyone including the characters and the audience know what it is. It’s a plea to let them go alive.
– We do not dwell for long on the phonecall that Dinesh gets from the maid. The police guy cuts the call saying he can talk later. That’s it. We don’t get a closeup of Dinesh’s disappointment or a closeup of the phone. Or a shot of the girl at the other end as she wonders why he cut the call. Things like this enhance the realism of the film and make the ending more gruesome.
– The strength of a great film is when you can guess quite early the rough ending and yet you are riveted to watch the proceedings. Ever since kishore’s dying words, we as audience know what’s going to happen to samudrakani, but still will it really happen, how will it happen, questions like these sustain our interest.
– Samudrakani’s acting was top notch. I loved the way he sat on the chair smoking a cigarette, with his leg on the cot and looked at Kishore as he returned from the washroom. The biggest ploy by Vetrimaaran is not to reveal that Samudrakani has a significant role to play in the film. That’s a good ploy too I feel.
– Caste is a very subtle undercurrent in this film. The ease with which the police officials ask Dinesh and his friends to clean the toilets and the ease with which they accept to do so, is ample evidence to point out that one other reason that they are manhandled and disposed of could be their low caste. And the fact that they are from places like Paramakkudi and wouldn’t be knowing people of influence who can raise a voice for them.
– Somehow I kept hoping till the end that Dinesh would emerge alive from this whole episode. But it was not to be. Need to come to terms with certain harsh realities.
– There was one abrupt cut in the film. Could be a cut only in Singapore. It happened immediately after the branches of the palm tree are shaped into sticks. Maybe to avoid showing brutal violence on screen.
– There were several families in the theatre with me. With several kids. I was wondering why the hell the kids were brought to such a film. “Rendu perum settthuttaangala appa?” one little girl was asking her dad. “Nalla gripping ah irundhuchu gripping irundhuchu” one other fellow kept saying. A few ppl stumbled while climbing up the stairs, similar to the jail inmates stumbling to the toilets.