In this column revealed within the first week of each month, Raja Sen single out The Best and The Worst throughout Indian movie and tv within the month passed by. Consider it a report card. This November turned out to be a uniformed month, giving us an excellent movie about ghastly policemen, and a ghastly movie about tremendous policemen.
Jai Bhim (Amazon Prime)
Jai Bhim is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Jai Bhim begins with a supremely haunting scene. One afternoon outdoors a jail, a number of policemen stand and divide up a bunch of prisoners based mostly on their caste. This appears like an on a regular basis affair for the cops — one thing executed as casually as selecting a neighbourhood cricket workforce — the place they let the higher caste prisoners go free whereas holding again these from decrease castes, pinning their pending instances onto them. It feels terrifyingly plausible.
TJ Gnanavel’s powerful, unflinching Tamil drama tells the story of a real courtroom hero. Suriya stars as crusading authorized warrior Ok Chandru, a Madras High Court decide who fought in opposition to caste discrimination and dismissed over 96,000 instances. The movie tells us the story of Rajakannu and Sengeni, two hard-working members of the snake-catching Irula tribe. After Rajakannu is wrongly arrested for theft, his pregnant spouse Sengeni fights the system with the intention to win her husband freedom. Chandru is the lawyer who takes her facet.
The movie is clearly inspirational — Suriya utilizing each ounce of his display screen charisma to make Chandru a dynamic and compelling character — and whereas the courtroom scenes are riveting (and reassuring) the movie enchants us with the humane and delicate romance between Rajakannu (performed by Ok Manikandan) and Sengeni (an excellent Lijomol Jose) who win us over to their facet lengthy earlier than hell breaks free. I needed to avert my eyes within the torture sequences. The often-brutal movie feels extra harrowing due to how a lot we really feel for this tenderly portrayed couple.
Suriya deserves the loudest applause. The famous person has not solely acted but additionally produced this essential and related movie. It feels a far cry from Hindi cinema, the place display screen stars — and cops — childishly thump their very own chests whereas chasing down the improper targets. They’re solely arresting growth.
Sooryavanshi (In theatres/Netflix)
Sooryavanshi launched on November 5 in theaters. Is now out there on Netflix.
This is a dangerously dangerous movie.
In the last word irony, the blame for the existence of Sooryavanshi could also be laid on the ft of Suriya. Rohit Shetty’s universe of A-lister policemen began a decade in the past with Ajay Devgn in Singham — a movie so crotch-focussed I had labelled it “Devgnporn” in my 2011 overview — which was a loud remake of Suriya’s 2010 hit Singam. Suriya has since moved on, modified sides and makes use of his stardom to again harrowing dramas about police brutality. The superstars of Hindi cinema, alternatively, seem content material to put on tight khaki and obsequiously toe the road.
In one Sooryavanshi scene, for example, a authorities official briefing the Anti-Terrorism Squad says “As you all know, Section 370 being scrapped in Kashmir has made it completely impossible for terrorists to enter India…” Consider that “As you all know.” As if this isn’t solely truth, however gospel. This is pathetic and deeply irresponsible propaganda, as blatant as product placement. The type of propaganda that results in film producers getting Padma Shri awards.
There is extra islamophobia working by way of Sooryavanshi than photographs of Akshay Kumar working in slow-motion — which is saying one thing. Not solely are all of the terrorists Muslim, however the valiant heroes simply occur to be Hindus. The movie additionally has the gall to playact some kind of pseudo-Manmohan Desai model secularism — that includes the heavy-handed imagery of pleasant Muslims serving to save a Ganesha idol — however the message is unmistakably clear: these Muslims who comply with directions are “good Muslims.” Especially those who be part of the police.
The writing is atrocious. Kumar performs a policeman who forgets folks’s names. His spouse is known as Ria, however he variously calls her ‘Hernia,’ ‘Malaria’ and ‘Syria.’ He forgets all names, in actual fact, besides these of the Muslims on the police hitlist. Those names he remembers even when he forgets his personal. That says so much about police priorities. Once a profiler, at all times a profiler.
Raja Sen is a critic, writer and screenwriter. He has written the upcoming movie Chup with filmmaker R Balki.