The stage is all set this week for two gripping Tamil movies. Interestingly, both have very different plots. While Vetrimaaran’s Visaaranai (Interrogation) -- which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last August -- is a brutal look at police atrocity in Andhra Pradesh, Bommarillu Bhaskar’s Bangalore Naatkal (Bangalore Days) is a fun-packed comedy about three cousins, though with a tinge of tragedy thrown in.
Visaaranai hit well with the festival audiences, for though it tackled police highhandedness in south India, cruel cops have no boundaries. Put a man in uniform, and he tends to mutate into a monster. What is most despicable is that he uses his baton or bullet on the weak and the deprived.
Last year, The New York Times screamed in a headline that an unarmed black man was shot dead by a South Carolina policeman. A few months ago, 20 Tamil labourers were gunned down by cops in Andhra Pradesh, because they were allegedly stealing forest wood.
Vetrimaaran’s Visaaranai depicts police savagery with such rawness that is rarely seen in Indian cinema. Forever fascinated with unusual stories, Vetrimaaran’s movie is based on Chandra Kumar’s book, Lock-Up, published in 2006, in which he narrates his horrific 13-day experience in a tiny prison cell in Andhra Pradesh, he and his two friends were incarcerated for no apparent reason.
Watch the trailer of Bangalore Naatkal here:
Visaaranai has three Tamil-speaking daily wage earners in Guntur (Andhra Pradesh), who are jailed, stripped to their waists and beaten most sadistically by a police force pressured into solving a theft case that had occurred in a top ranking bureaucrat’s house.
Vetrimaaran told this writer this morning that he had added a couple of scenes to what was screened at Venice -- pushing the length of the film to 117 minutes from 108. Short even then by Tamil movie standards, Vetrimaaran added that a “far significant difference between the two versions has been the introduction of background score in the Indian release. The music is by GV Prakash. However, there will not be any songs or dances.”
That is really bold, for Tamil directors seldom step into the songless-danceless territory. For Vetrimaaran, Visaaranai may well be one more feather in his cap. Earlier, he had dealt with subjects like rooster fight, and is now planning a picture on pigeon racing.
Bangalore Naatkal is a remake of Anjali Menon’s runaway hit in Malayalam, Bangalore Days -- a sweet and sour story of three cousins who find fun in a new city. Played by Nazriya Nazim, Nivin Pauly and Dulquer Salmaan, the cousins go through life-changing experiences as they tumble into love and romance.
Bhaskar in a chat with this writer this morning said that he had followed the original Malayalam version -- only replacing the cast with one that was essentially Tamil and Telugu.
Rana Daggubati, the Telugu star, would essay Fahad Faasil’s character in Menon’s work. Bobby Simha would replace Nivin Pauly, Arya will get into the shoes of Dulquer Salmaan and Sri Divya would play the character that Nazriya Nazim essayed in Menon’s Bangalore Days. Nithya Menon’s part has gone to Samantha, and Prakash Raj will replace Prathap Pothen.