Starring Samuthirakani, Dileepan and Ineya
Written & Directed by Franklin Jacob
Simply, or not so simply, stunning…. Writer is the kind of rare film that will leave you haunted for days if not weeks. Police brutality is a serious crime in this country. Just when I thought no one and nothing could equal the bludgeoning impact of Vetrimaran’s Visaranai where every thwack of the danda on the custodial victims was like a personal blow to every member of the audience, along comes debutant director Franklin Jacob to tell us that when it comes to police brutality you can never say enough.
Writer is that squirm-inducing story of the innocent boy from the village held and tortured for no crime , that Jai Bhim was not. Its sledgehammer impact does not depend on melodrama or other excesses of cinematic expression like a maudlin overblown background score. In fact music is frugally used and the couple of songs that cropped up left me thoroughly outraged.
They were like ads popping up in the middle of the climax in Drishyam.
Without making contrived or contorted efforts to do so, Writer conveys a climactic tension from the beginning to the devastating end.The set-up is a typical ‘choler-khaki’ scenario. Senior havaldar Thangraj (brilliant, Samuthirakani) is on the verge of retirement when he is sent on a punishment transfer to a police station where a young innocent boy Jayakumar (Hari Krishnan) is being held in a lodge by the police. News leak s out that police suspects are being confined in rented rooms.
All hell breaks lose and there is a heavy price to be paid for anyone with conscience in this monstrously corrupt system.It is to the lead actor Samuthirakani’s credit that he makes Thangraj vulnerable yet vital . If he intervenes in the wrongful confinement of a boy who is clearly clueless about what’s happening to him.
To his credit the director doesn’t crowd Jayakumar’s horrific plight with overt sentimentality. Of course we are allowed to feel sorry for him(why would we not!) but there is no attempt at manipulation our responses , at least none until the entire filth and corruption of the police department is pushed on one senior cop , a bully played well by Kavin Jay Babu who is the Gabbar Singh of this yell-in-hell yarn.
The treatment of corruption in the police force and the sudden swerve into assassination at the end reminded me of Govind Nihalani’s Ardh Satya where the cop-hero was mocked and emasculated by a seedy corrupt politicians.
But what to do when the enemy is within you? Writer crosses the yellow line cordoning the scene of crime,to plunge into the darkness that divides civil conduct from its opposite , not sanctioned by law but approved by the lawmakers . It is a remarkable work filled with shocks and surprises, but never designed to lure you into its lair of lies and subterfuge .
My only grouse: why does the villain-cop break into passages of Hindi ? Is this to say that he is the scummy migrant in Chennai , the dirty fish in the clean pond. If so,then the film owes us an apology too. Injustice is not for the lower-caste weaklings like Jaya Kumar. It’s all around us.