National Award-winning Tamil film Visaaranai, directed by filmmaker Vetrimaaran, will be India’s official entry to the Oscars in 2017. The film will feature in the Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars.
Visaranai beat competition from films like Bajirao Mastani and Fan to become India’s official entry to the Oscars. “We selected Visaranai on the basis of concept, treatment and technique. There were other good films like Sairat, Bajirao Mastani, Sultan, Fan, Airlift and Udta Punjab. There was a Bengali film also in the race. The decision was unanimous,” filmmaker Ketan Mehta, chairman of the selection committee of Film Federation of India (FFI) said.
There were total 29 films in the competition, FFI secretary general Supran Sen said.
Visaranai is the ninth Tamil film to represent India at Oscars. The last Tamil film to be submitted as India’s Oscar entry was Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram (2000). Other submissions were Nayakan, Anjali, Deiva Magan and Jeans among others.
Visaaranai, starring Dinesh Ravi, Anandhi and Aadukalam Murugadoss in the lead roles and produced by actor Dhanush’s Wunderbar Films, is based on writer M Chandrakumar’s novel Lock Up. It is a violent take on police brutality and corruption that sees poor innocent men losing their lives in utterly needless conflicts.
Earlier in 2016, the film bagged three National Film Awards -- best feature film in Tamil, best supporting actor for Samuthirakani and best editing for Kishore Te. But it first came into focus at the Venice Film Festival in 2015. The film premiered in the Orrizonti (Horizons) section of the 72nd Venice Film Festival, where it won the Amnesty International Italia Award.
Lock Up’s writer Chandrakumar says that many years ago, he and his two friends were locked up in a tiny cell in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur for 13 days for no apparent reason and tortured. His nightmarish experiences translated into Lock Up.
Watch Visaranai’s trailer here:
The film paints the disturbing picture of three Tamil-speaking daily wage earners in Guntur, who are taken into custody by the police which is compelled to solve a theft in the house of a top-ranking civil servant.
The three men are stripped to their waist and beaten in the most gruesome manner to elicit a confession. With language as a formidable barrier, the men, who do not speak Telugu, are even more handicapped. Bewildered and wounded beyond endurance, they eventually find a samaritan in actor Samuthirakani’s character, who, despite his moral high ground, finds himself trapped in a web of political deceit and money power.
India has never won an Oscar in the best foreign film category. The last Indian film that made it to the final five list was Ashutosh Gowarikers Lagaan. Mother India and Salaam Bombay are the other two Indian movies to have made it to the top five.
With inputs from Gautaman Bhaskaran and PTI