FIR review: Vishnu Vishal’s film is a taut thriller with smart twists
FIR review: Vishnu Vishal pushes boundaries both as an actor and producer with FIR. The film offers him ample scope to flex his acting chops.
It is rarely do you see movies being made in Tamil cinema with a Muslim protagonist. Debut filmmaker Manu Anand’s largely engrossing thriller FIR delves deep in the way we perceive people based on their ethnicity. What is instantly likeable about the film is that it doesn’t try to preach why it’s wrong to judge people based on their religion. Instead, it makes us empathise with the anguish of the film’s lead character who is a proud Indian.
Vishnu Vishal plays Irfan Ahmed, a chemical engineer from IIT Madras, who works in a small firm but has big dreams. For quite some time, he has been attending interviews to land a dream job. The one question which haunts him everywhere he goes is – Are you religious? Irfan stays with his mother who works with the police. He has a close set of friends, a girlfriend, who lives in another city.
As we follow the life of Irfan Ahmed, we are also introduced to a parallel story of an investigative agency being on the lookout for a dreaded terrorist named Abubakar Abdullah, who is apparently planning a massive terror attack. Gautham Menon heads the agency and he’s closely working with a team to nab Abubakar Abdullah before he could wreak havoc. When Irfan accidentally gets caught in the mission to capture Abdullah, his life tuns upside down.
FIR, coming from a first time writer-director, packs a solid punch. Not only it manages to keep the screenplay racy, but it also stays consistently gripping, even with over a dozen key characters. Unlike most Tamil films, FIR is not hero-centric and that’s what makes it refreshingly different. It’s one of those films in which every character plays a vital part and holds the film together. Manu Anand’s understanding of how investigative agencies work in India is very impressive. The terrorism angle as a backdrop is another key aspect of the film which is seldom explored in Tamil cinema. To do it with finesse and without going overboard in the treatment makes FIR one of the better commercial films in this space.
Vishnu Vishal continues to back and pick films that push him out of his comfort zone. After scoring a huge hit with the psycho killer thriller Ratsasan (now being remade in Hindi with Akshay Kumar as Mission Cinderella), he pushes boundaries both as an actor and producer with FIR. The film offers him ample scope to flex his acting chops. As someone desperate to prove his loyalty towards his country and his innocence, the actor delivers a very sincere performance.
One of the highlights of the movie is its female characters and how they’ve been used effectively. Raiza Wilson, Reba Monica John and Manjima Mohan have solid parts to play with each one of them getting at least one scene where they leave their mark. Raiza's portrayal of a Muslim intelligence agent is particularly interesting. Filmmaker Gautham Menon, whose recent good stint as an actor, continues with FIR, in which he plays the chief of the intelligence agency - a character that fits him like a glove. Composer Aswath helps in elevating the tension of the story with his pulsating background score.
FIR has some smart, well-written twists for a thriller. As the twists untangle themselves in the end, the film feels more complete.
Director: Manu Anand
Cast: Vishnu Vishal, Manjima Mohan, Reba Monica John, Raiza Wilson and Gautham Vasudev Menon