Sunday, August 6, 2023


Power struggles are a common theme in stories.   Caste still plays a powerful role in India and is often tied to money, i.e. old money.  Political power is tied to economical power.

The relationship between Maamannan and his son Veeran is generational.  The father accepts the caste reality and tries to work within it. Veeran resents his father's compliance with the upper caste.  Ratinavelu is a brash upper caste man who is ruthless.  In one scene we see him beat a hunting dog to death.   In others he beat humans and humiliates Maamannan by forcing him not to sit.

Ratinavelu raises hunting dogs which are sometimes let loose.  He reveals his violent nature by on at least two occasions he kills his own dogs in a rage.  Veeran on the other hand raises pigs which sometimes are victims of the dogs.  Leela is brought into the script not so much as a romantic interest as a feminist protagonist who has had her fitness studio attacked.

The situation escalates when an election is called.  The violence is to intimidate.  Maamannan's style is not to retaliate and in the end his style wins him another election.  He is reconciled to his son Veeran.  

Violence is throughout the story, most of it mindless or in retaliation.  Some what exaggerated, but more realistic than I have seen in other Tamil films.  The end provides hope of progress for true equality and left a good feeling.  Freedom is not won cheaply.

It takes a good cast and crew to make such a fine film.  Here are some key ones.

Mari  Selvaraj, writer/director with only his third film. 

Udhayanidhi Stalin is the producer and also the lead actor, Veeran.  He started as a producer and got acting roles.  He has 15 credits as a producer and 18 for acting.  His father has been the  Chief Magistrate for Tamil Nadu.  Udhayanidhi  has become involved in politics and has decided to drop films for the time being.

A R. Rahman, one of the foremost composers in India and beyond provided the music.   He studied piano at age 4 and became involved with his father's musical business  including composing.  His father died when he was 9 and it was a scramble to get education.  Nonetheless his education did include music and at a young age involved writing music for  tv. ads and organizing rock bands.  At the age of 23 he converted to Islam and adopted his current name.  Mani Ratnam approached him to write music for the Tamil film, "Roja" (1992).  He has 204 film scores including "Bombay" (1995), "Fire" (1996), "Dil Se" (1998), "Lagaan:  Once Upon a Time in India" (2001), " Kannathil Muthamittal" (2002), "Swades" (2004), "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008), "Gajini" (2008), "Rockstar" (2011), "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" (2012), "Kadal" (2013), "The Hundred Foot Journey" (2014) and "Pele:  Birth of a Legend" (2018).  He has won 2 Oscars and numerous other awards.  He has performed as a playback singer in several films including this one.

Theni Eswar was the cinematographer.  He has 13 film credits including "Taramani" (2017), "Peranbu" (2018), "Merku Thodarchi Malai" (2018) and "Paava Kedhaigal" (2020).  Check my top film for 2020:

Silva Rk, the editor has 19 film credits.

Vadivelu plays title character who rose above his Dalit background, but is still deferential to those above him.  He normally is seen in comic roles or supporting.  He has 224 film credits including "Kanthaswamy" (2009), "Mersal" (2017) and "Thambi"(2019).

Fahadh Faasil  played Ratinavelu a real rotten bastard such a contrast to many of his other roles.  He comes from a film family, but his first film was an embarrassing failure.  He left and amongst other things got a philosophy degree from the University of Miami.  Returning home he renewed his film career and now has 60 film credits as an actor and another 4 as a producer.  His films include "Bangalore Days" (2014), "Take Off" (2017), "Nijan Prakashan" (2018), "Kumbalango" (2019), "C U Soon" (2020) and "Pushpa: The Rise" (2022).  Check another top favorite movie:

Keerthy Suresh plays Leela, the female lead.  She came from a film family and had a few roles as a child actress.  In school she won some swimming awards.  She went on to get a degree in fashion design and participated in an exchange program in Scotland and an internship in London.  Back to films she has 35 film credits covering Tamil, Malayalam and Telegu including "Mahanti" (2018), "Penguin" (2020) and "Vaashi" (2022).  At one time she was the highest paid actress in south India.

Ravenna Ravi played Jyothi, the wife of Ratinavelu who occasionally restrains his temper outbursts.  Her career started with dubbing for Tamil, Malayalam and Telegu films with 19 film credits.  She has compiled 9 credits for acting.

Lal had a small role as a political operative.  He has been an actor, directer, writer and producers.  He has over 150 film credits including "Thottappan" (2011), "Pulimuragan" (2016), "Helen" (2019) and "Kaaval" (2021). 

There is violence and cruelty to animals that would disturb some viewers.  The rest of us might feel a bit nauseous, but message would be visible.  Good production values.

As usual I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.

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