Viduthalai Part 1: Near perfect cinematic achievement, questionable political stance
Representational Image
  • Release Date: – 31/03/2023
  • Platform: – Zee5
  • Cast: – Soori, Vijay Sethupathi, Bhavani Sre, Chetan, Gautham Vasudev Menon 
  • Director: – Vetrimaaran

“Viduthalai Part 1” narrates the story of a police company posted in the innermost jungles of Tamil Nadu, tasked with fighting a group of terrorists known as the People’s Army.

Kumaresan (Soori), an ethical and efficient police constable, arrives at the police outpost coinciding with the most brutal attack by the People’s Army on the common masses. They carry out a blast derailing a train and killing numerous innocent civilians in the process. The police company is given one task only: to capture the leader of the group and the mastermind behind the attack, Perumal (Vijay Sethupathi).

As Kumaresan spends days that turn into months in the camp, he has to deal with being at odds with the Officer in Charge of the company, witnessing and digesting the increasingly brutal means that the police unleash on the people of the area to unearth the whereabouts of Perumal, and the inescapable romantic attraction that he feels towards Tamizharasi (Bhavani Sre), a local girl who might be privy to information about the People’s Army. The film ends in one of the most thrilling cliffhangers that I have witnessed in modern Indian cinema.

I have immense respect for Vetrimaaran. While I absolutely don’t agree with his political stance and the clear Naxalite love that he shows in this film, I cannot deny the fact that this is easily one of the most thrilling, entertaining, engaging, and haunting films that I have seen in recent times. I urge all my readers to watch this film as nothing more than fiction and not to draw their social and historical lessons from it. Having said that, let us now dwell on the reasons that make this film so captivating. I can assure you; they are just as diverse as the themes that this film tries to tackle and does so with aplomb.

The emphasis of the screenplay is not just on the manhunt. The film takes a meticulous and hard look at life in the police barracks, the various power games that go on, and their impact on the lives of the people who are stuck in the middle of it. The protagonist is very clear about his actions and the difference between right and wrong. Hence, he is always on the receiving end of injustice that is meted out to him just because he wouldn’t comply with what his conscience doesn’t allow him to but what his superiors expect of him. 

Apart from the protagonist, we see some other key characters in the police barracks dealing with different issues like corruption, caste divides, and their inability to brutalize people beyond a point. We also see how a superior officer, who is a humanitarian to start with, quickly adapts to the brutal ways of an officer who he called perverted just a few scenes back. Through this character, the director raises important and tough questions about why and how sane human beings are transformed and conditioned to employ violence and brutality when they are faced with unforgiving and inhuman challenges and circumstances for a prolonged period.

Just like the lives of the police officers are scanned and presented in totality, the cause and actions of the terrorists are also brought out to a certain extent. I believe a larger chunk of it will be disclosed in Part 2 as the teaser of it at the end of this film suggested. However, we get enough here to understand where they are coming from and why they are so hell-bent on standing up to the government. One of the best reveals in the film is a scene involving Perumal storming a police station and killing a cop before escaping with terrorists and witnesses who were incarcerated there and were being tortured.

This scene is played out twice, and in both versions, we see a different side of the story. The emotional manipulation of the audience that Vetrimaaran is able to pull off in both versions of the scene is proof of his directorial prowess and how well he understands the emotions of the audience and how best to play with them.

As is the case with all Vetrimaaran films, the performances are outstanding. Soori is a revelation. The way he sinks into the character of Kumaresan and brings out the subtle nuances of the character is sensational to watch. A lot of the film’s heart and tension come from the emotional turmoil and conflicts that the character of Kumaresan is shown enduring. He has to endure torture from his own team members and also from the people that he is supposed to take down. The only place where he gets comfort is from the girl who he should be utilizing to get to the terrorist leader.

As the film progresses and he makes numerous realizations, his character and his emotional arch get increasingly murkier and conflicted. In the exceptionally tense and nerve-wracking climax of the film, we see Soori going berserk to save the girl he loves from enduring the same fate that first her parents and then her grandmother had to endure at the hands of the police. His performance in this part of the film took his essay to a whole new level and ensured that no one else in the film could come close to the emotional impact that he was able to deliver through his portrayal.

Vijay Sethupathi has a brief role, but he does complete justice to it and ensures that we are just as pumped for the next instalment of the film as we were with this part. The bits and pieces appearance that he is shown turning in elevates certain portions of the film and adds the much-needed heroic and commercial elements to it. Bhavani Sre as Tamizharasi is sensational. As the film progresses, her character gets more and more complicated because of her prior encounters with the police and her inescapable love and romantic inclination for Kumaresan. The tragedies that befall her character are sensationally realized and presented by Bhavani, and these moments will haunt the audience due to the amount of physicality and brutal realism that she is able to breathe into these moments.

Even though “Viduthalai Part 1” is only the beginning of a story that looks set to become a lot denser and more complicated in Part 2, it never fails to intrigue, entertain, and shock. The film showcases breathtaking cinematography, razor-sharp editing, and spellbinding action.

The long take at the beginning of the film, used to portray the aftermath of the blast carried out by terrorists on a train, was sensational. While the CGI became evident in certain portions, I couldn’t help but appreciate the amount of care and planning that must have gone into staging such a complex and lengthy sequence.

The action in the film is equally impressive. I was blown away by the climactic action sequence involving the capture of Perumal and how well it was choreographed and edited. It’s worth noting that the action in the film is always supported by solid dramatic buildup and emotional weight, which makes it even more exhilarating and breathtaking.

The film ends on a cliffhanger, but those who watch this part will never feel cheated because, despite the ongoing story development, there is a sense of completion and finality in the way this part concludes. We are also given glimpses of what the next part will entail, indicating that it will be an entirely different experience.

Dear Reader,
Over the past four years, EastMojo revolutionised the coverage of Northeast India through our sharp, impactful, and unbiased coverage. And we are not saying this: you, our readers, say so about us. Thanks to you, we have become Northeast India’s largest, independent, multimedia digital news platform.
Now, we need your help to sustain what you started.
We are fiercely protective of our ‘independent’ status and would like to remain so: it helps us provide quality journalism free from biases and agendas. From travelling to the remotest regions to cover various issues to paying local reporters honest wages to encourage them, we spend our money on where it matters.
Now, we seek your support in remaining truly independent, unbiased, and objective. We want to show the world that it is possible to cover issues that matter to the people without asking for corporate and/or government support. We can do it without them; we cannot do it without you.
Support independent journalism, subscribe to EastMojo.

Thank you,
Karma Paljor

Vetrimaaran attempts to portray Naxalites as heroes without explicitly labelling them as such, and while that may be a controversial choice, what cannot be denied is the fantastic cinematic qualities and sheer entertainment value that he infuses into “Viduthalai Part 1” in every frame. He brings out the best in his actors and ensures the audience’s engagement from start to finish through his masterful storytelling, editing, cinematography, and action. He cleverly leaves the story at a juncture that guarantees audiences will eagerly await Part 2. For all these reasons and more, “Viduthalai Part 1” is easily one of the best Tamil films to have been released this year and is a must-watch. However, it’s important not to form your opinion on the caste system and the defence forces solely based on what you see here.

Rating: (4 out of 5 Stars) 

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position

Also Read | New Songs Sunday: Arlo Parks, Monaleo and more!

Trending Stories

Latest Stories

Leave a comment

Leave a comment