” Praising Vetrimaran’s movie Visaaranai only in Tamil is limiting an International film to parochial borders. A must watch.” When these are the words coming from an actor/filmmaker of Kamal Haasan’s caliber, you cannot doubt it. I googled Visaranai trailer and hit the Youtube link, in that fraction of second, I was mentally prepared to be blown away by the trailer. The words like Masterpiece,Classic,Powerful had aleady clouded my mind but those thunderstorms emanating from lathi’s brought me back to the trailer. And I remain with the trailer throughout just like Pandi and his friends held onto their lives. I loved the trailer but lost a bit of excitement. It looked real but Indian Police exploiting poor people to close a case is not a new thing. Should I accept what the trailer suggests ?? Pandi says NO.
Five minutes into the film and I was already captured by the cinematography of S Ramalingam. Every single frame looked unfiltered, as if an eye has been used instead of camera. Streetlights made roads part white and somewhere part yellowish, few human shadows are there and faces are never fully visible. It feels like you are strolling through streets for a morning walk. The way Pandi stutters after bath and while drinking tea, captures the morning coldness perfectly.
Right from the start of the film we are shown the plight of immigrants, how they leave behind their homes and family to earn livelihood among unknowns, their happiness on meeting someone from their native places and how helpless their situations can become if caught in a tight spot. In India, the foremost problem an immigrant faces is the language barrier. Jobs, home, friends, trust and all comes second. Humans have more tendency to hear than understand. Very few people understand the language of humankind, if you want people to listen to you then you must know their language. Still you may get accepted by the people but the System hardly accommodates you. Something goes wrong and you are the first fish to be caught.
Visaaranai is a strong commentary on working ethics of Indian Police Force. How one-third of the cases in India are solved or rather closed to get the paperwork done will make your conscience numb. Police don’t want to catch the real culprits, instead force some poor(literally) innocents to own upto it. Humein police aur court-kacheri ke chakkar mein nahi phasna(We don’t want to get into police and court’s mess), even those who don’t believe in these filmy dialogues will have to update their views after watching Visaaranai. Brutality showered on Pandi and his friends is difficult to watch and superb sound effects terrifies your hearts. How policeman are able to beat innocent people so disdainfully? They don’t have anything personal against Pandi and his friends but orders from higher authority, promotional incentives, working for years in police service makes them insensitive towards such people. They always hit them on legs or shoulders, and keep in mind not to hit them beyond recovery. Police are just part of the System and do what the System wants.
Credit to Vetri Maaran, the change from first plot to second plot is so swift you don’t feel the discontinuation. In second half, we get to see the power game played between different players(ministers,police officials and businessmen) of the System. You may feel like, the System is only harsh to poor people but Visaaranai makes it clear that no one is above the System. In chess, sometimes a pawn is sacrificed to leach an advantage, in same way the System can turn against you to maintain its control. Inspector Muthu had the same fate, he was sacrificed to keep the image of the Police forces intact. Till KK was on the strong square he was treated respectfully but once the advantage associated with him was lost, he too was flushed out of the System. Though Pandi and his friends died, a question was born. How much the System manipulates the public perception?
Early in the movie, we see Pandi shivering after having a bath early in the morning. While on his way to work he had a hot tea to beat the cold weather and start the day afresh. You can also see his watered face.
Next in the Police station, we again get to see the same side-view of Pandi’s face . Here he is shivering from the police thrashing. In place of cold morning, he gets to see the cold nature of police towards his plight. His skin is burning from the beating as if some hot water has been thrown over him. Earlier his face was wet after bathing and here he was sweating due to panic. And this is how his new day started.
Throughout the movie you hardly see the natural light source. Sun is a symbol of hope but inside the Police station it has limited reach. In the first image you can see sun rays entering the Police station through an exhaust fan, signifying the manipulative environment we live in. Pandi and his friends were kept in dark about why they were arrested, this is signified by the dark room they were kept in instead of normal jail cells(see fourth image). In climax scene, the assurance given by Inspector Muthu to Pandi and his friends, which appeared hopeful earlier turned out to be fake just as torch light appears as moon(see third image).
You think you are free but the System never lets you go. It always keeps a watch on you and tracks your every movement. This is signified in the first image where you can see Chandran watching Pandi andMurugan from a terrace. Police inspector of GunturPolice Station left all four of them only to catch them back. In fourth image, Inspector is watching them from first floor. In fifth image, when Muthu and his team are arriving at KK’s house we again see the top view. Later S.I Shoban blackmails Muthu by asking him to follow the commands otherwise he will be arrested for KK’s custodial death. This is how the System has a watchful eye over everyone and plays its every move to win the game always.
Inspector Muthu is an upright man, who tries as hard as possible to keep his words. He is caught in the dangerous game without his will. He is left torn apart between his duty and moral values. But at last he chooses to follow the higher authority and this is signified as him jumping in the swamp to nab Pandi. Swamp represents the muddy-game the System plays and Pandi, Murugan and Muthu are the innocent people caught in this deadly net.
We always see the distant shots of Police stations and KK’s house. These are the places which are right in front of our eyes but still what happens inside those buildings are unknown to the public. Climax scene involves a swamp area right in the middle of the civil society and night time which signifies how manipulations are done behind the doors when everyone is sleeping.