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Viduthalai Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Friday, March 31, 2023 • Malayalam ]
Viduthalai Review
Banner:
RS Infotainment
Cast:
Soori, Vijay Sethupathi, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Bhavani Sre, Prakash Raj, Rajiv Menon, Chetan
Direction:
Vetrimaaran
Production:
Elred Kumar
Music:
Ilaiyaraaja

Viduthalai 1 - Vetrimaaran wins again with his intense storytelling 

Vetrimaaran is one of the few filmmakers from the South who has maintained his cent percent hit rate critically as well as commercially for more than a decade and a half.   He has a lot at stake with his latest release 'Viduthalai 1' considering the fact that he gave up at least two superstar vehicles to pursue this pet project.  Whether this intense socio political action thriller satisfy his fans only or cause his intended debate in the society remains to be seen.

'Viduthalai' set in 1987 begins with Kumaresan (Soori) a fresh recruit police constable arriving at his base camp which is situated in a dangerous forest area.  He gets the post due to his hill driving prowess but is allocated menial jobs like cleaning toilets by the sadistic Officer in Charge (Chethan).  The elusive Vaathiyaar (Vijay Sethupathi) the leader of a Naxalite group Makkal Padai is rebelling against the government's plan to set up a mining operation and a special task force is formed to nab him dead or alive.  Kumaresan who is good at heart helps save the life of an old woman attacked by an animal and her granddaughter Paapa (Bhavani Sre) strikes a friendship with him that turns to love.  In a twist of fate Kumaresan becomes the only one to see Vaathiyaar aka Perumal's face and when Paapa's life is in great danger from the police he embarks on a mission to capture the terrorist himself.  What happens next is what 'Viduthalai 1' is on the surface level but there are many layers to it that have to be watched to be felt.

Soori has completely justified Vetrimaaran's immense faith in him, not only with his dedication but his talent too.   Soori's performance is so good that the minute he starts his long climb up the forest mountain you only see Kumaresan.  Right from his loving voiceover explaining the happenings to his mother through letters to falling in love with Bhavani Sre to suffering humiliation at the hands of the cops he moves the audience with his emoting.   Vetrimaaran has written one of the best character arcs for a lead character in recent times for Soori and what a mass moment the erstwhile comedian gets when he finally puts his hands on a rifle.  And of course those dangerous stunts that Soori has executed falling off rooftops is in an altogether different level.   Bhavani Sre has got the role of a lifetime playing Tamilarasi the tribal girl who falls for the hero.  She is subtle in her expressions of love while her emotional outburst when losing a dear one is very touching. Kudos to her for going dress less in the most crucial sequence that drives the entire story. Rajeev Menon as the higher government official and Gautham Menon as the DSP have done justice to their roles.  Chethan as the sadistic cop and the rest of the cast have performed neatly.  Vijay Sethupathi makes a very subtle entry and appears in a few action scenes that dont even show him clearly.  However he towers in the scene where like a wounded lion  he is surrounded by Soori and the cops .  It is all Makkal Selvan in the few glimpses we get of 'Viduthalai 2' at the end and the crowd cant stop cheering for this rare actor who is a true boon to filmmakers of substance like no other.

What works best in 'Viduthalai 1' is the intensity and detailing that goes into every scene. The very long take of the aftermath of the train accident and Soori's long mountain climb to get to his outpost are so well executed that it draws the audiences into the world of the story and keeps them there till the very end.   The graphic depiction of the print media highlighting the narrative of the government's side of the story and sensationalizing any random encounter death is well documented in the film.   The romance between Soori and Bhavani Sre is integral to the narration and serves as the anchor for the former to the lengths that he goes to capture Vaathiyaar.  

On the downside Vetrimaaran's own 'Visaranai' in which he has dealt police brutality to the extreme works against him giving an impression that he has repeated himself.  Similarly Thamizh who is the co-director of this film already dealt with the plight of the constable in 'Taanaakaran'.  Hence these sequences are not as riveting as they should have been. There is also pacing issues and scenes that make the same point again and again. The couple of romance songs only elongate the length of the film.

Isaigniani Ilayaraja's background score is reminiscent of the eighties that suit the story setting but at a few places it seems to overdo the emphasis on the emotions.  Velraj's cinematography is stunning when capturing the beauty and the enigma of the mountainous forest terrain.  At the same time his lens also get close enough to register the inner turmoil of the protagonist through his eyes. RS Infotainment has made a strong and telling comeback with this much promising franchise.  Vetrimaaran has once again impressed with his vision, authenticity, intensity, balanced politics and the handwork in the making. He has set up strong conflicts with high anticipation for the payoffs.  However the judgement on whether this is on par with his body of work can only be determined after the release of 'Viduthalai 2'.  

Verdict : Go for this vintage Vetrimaaran film with a powerful performance from Soori.

Rating: 3.5 / 5.0

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