Star Cast: Soori, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Vijay Sethupathi, Bhavani Are, and ensemble.
What’s Good: It is Vetrimaaran setting up a foundation for a much larger story that is about a man losing his innocence and a cultist making his point in the most brutal way.
What’s Bad: While this is a visually brutal movie, it isn’t so brutal in its ideology like the filmmaker’s last movies.
Loo Break: It is an uncomfortable watch which will make you look away from the screen at least once.
Watch or Not?: You must because not many brave filmmakers still have their ideology safeguarded like Vetrimaaran. A mind we must promote and protect.
Language: Tamil (with subtitles).
Available On: In Theatres Near You.
Runtime: 150 Minutes.
Kumaresan (Soori), a newly joined police officer, is posted in a politically sensitive village where he is supposed to capture the leader of a separatist group, Perumal (Vijay). With time he learns tough way that the stories of valour and shining badges about the police force are not the same in reality.
Viduthalai Part-1 Movie Review: Script Analysis
Vetrimaaran, with time, has become the voice of the have-nots whom the woke culture and progress both have to reach. He is a mirror that shows the exact reflection of their condition and how brutal an existence they are living. The filmmaker weaves his stories in a way that they are niche in nature but global in approach. Viduthalai, for the beginners is probably the least ideologically brutal movie to come out of his mind, but visually the brutality multiplies and for a reason.
Written by Vetrimaaran and adapted from Jayamohan’s novel Thunaivan, Viduthalai is a movie that is used as a run-up to the central conflict and nothing else. A 10-minute long shot without a single cut, in the beginning, speaks at length about the immersive experience the filmmaker wants to welcome you in. A train filled at total capacity with passengers is bombed, and there is death all around. The camera skilfully walks through the entire scene defying geography, through windows, uncomfortable openings in the fallen train, and past dead bodies and amputated body parts. He doesn’t want you to be a viewer but a participant.
It is about a police officer filling up for a dead officer in a region known for the unrest it is in. Technically Kumaresan always thought of the force as righteous and the one that is always at the service of people. Little did he know the brutality of the business. There is so much nuance in how Vetrimaaran creates Kumaresan visually. He is informally ousted from the troop because he follows the book and has a heart. He was told to guard a watch tower and later connected to a skill set that he must have developed while being on the tower. Slowly he is made to lose his faith and innocence but becomes brutal to fight for his rights.
So is the man who he is fighting against. Perumal, a boss of a separatist group, fights for the people. At some point in his life he was also like Kumaresan, because the screenplay does hint at his generous heart. So technically here are two individuals of the same emotion fight against each other. Between this is the class divide, the caste divide, police brutality, the haves eating off the have nots, and the forest that is very much a character.
The only thing that Viduthalai lacks in is building Kumaresan’s world inside the police workshop. He is never shown forming a bond with the fellow officers giving a gateway into some more lives.
Viduthalai Part-1 Movie Review: Star Performance
Soori, as Kumaresan, is a sheer force. The actor is our eyes in this world and is learning it as we are. He is empathetic, loveable, but these are not the only qualities which will help him survive. There is so much layering to him as he even shows hint of saviour complex. The movie explores this character in the most immersive way possible.
Bhavani Sre, a girl from the village, is an effortless performer. She becomes the voice of the women who have faced brutality at the hands of the system. When the brutality gets visual and the fact that Sre is at the recieving end, it hurts you, because the actor has managed to impress you so much. Gautham Vasudev Menon is his perfect self.
Vijay Sethupathi doesn’t have much to do than some very brief appearances this time, but the last scene where he confronts a corrupt cop is an testimony of what is about to come.
Viduthalai Part-1 Movie Review: Direction, Music
Vetrimaaran is himself experimenting with Viduthalai. The filmmaker has reshaped his own grammar and tried to expand the universe. He treats the Part 1 as just an introduction to what is to come, and that works well till and extent. But the lack of Sethupathi in the first part might not be welcomed so well by an audience who will buy that ticked for him.
While there is enough brutality on screen where nails of a man are being chipped during an interrogation. Women are stripped naked and physically assaulted. But all of this is visual, the idea never gets that brutal. It does bother a bit, because the impact gets diluted by the intercutting of the scenes.
The cinematography by Velraj is beautiful and haunting. The frames are perfectly lit and they have a story to tell. The music by the Maestro Illaiyaraaja, like all other Vetrimaaran products, is on point.
Viduthalai Part-1 Movie Review: The Last Word
Viduthalai Part 1 is Vetrimaaran experimenting and trying to make his audience live a very haunting story. Go in with a strong heart because this watch needs one.
Viduthalai Part-1 Trailer
Viduthalai Part-1 releases on 31st March, 2023.
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For more recommendations, read our Christopher Movie Review.