Jai Bhim movie review: Suriya headlines a powerful film about fighting for the oppressed and police brutality
Jai Bhim movie review: Suriya lets his co-stars take the spotlight, doesn't let the star aura get in the way of telling an important story.
T.J Gnanavel’s Jai Bhim will go down as one of the most important films in Suriya’s career. I use the word important because it’s one of those rare occasions where the star hasn’t flexed his heroism and let his co-stars steal the spotlight. In other words, Suriya is the guiding light in Jai Bhim, which he’s produced under his own banner, and he deserves to be lauded for backing such a powerful film about the fight for the oppressed and against police brutality.
Jai Bhim opens with a potentially controversial scene, and you couldn’t ask for a scene to leave a harder impact at the very beginning of the film. We see a group of people just released from a local jail and their families are patiently waiting to receive them. As they walk out, they’re stopped and about their caste. Those from the lower most castes are told to stay back, booked in pending cases and handed over to the local police who pay the prison officer to take them away.
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Cut to the film’s central characters – Sengenni (Lijomol) and Rajakannu (Manikandan), a young couple from a hunting community who belong to the Irular tribe. When Rajakannu gets convicted in a false case of robbery, and later goes missing in police custody; his wife seeks the help of advocate Chandru (Suriya) for justice.
Jai Bhim talks about the state of the oppressed, and even though the story takes place during 1995, the film points out how even today, nothing much has changed when it comes to the lives of the marginalised. In Jai Bhim, men in khaki rule with power, and nobody can escape from the clutches of the system they have manufactured. And within the system, the power ranges from the high-ranking officials to those lowest in the hierarchy. An inspector can't question his superior when asked to do something and there's no right or wrong in the way it's done. The film is an honest on these powerful men and how they abuse this power to get anything done.
Jai Bhim and Vetrimaaran’s award-winning film Visaranai have much in common. Both these films are primarily about police brutality and corruption. Jai Bhim also talks about caste-based discrimination, and it doesn’t try to sugar-coat things in the process. One of the highlights of Jai Bhim are the courtroom sequences which have been shot in the most realistic fashion. Suriya brings earnestness in his performance and plays the role of a lawyer with a lot of maturity, ensuring that his star image never comes in the way. It’s Manikandan, who leaves you stunned with a gut-wrenching performance. Most of his scenes are shot in the interrogation room and he brings out the helplessness of his character effectively. Lijomol Jose as the lone woman standing against system that is rigged against her, is one of the best casting choices in recent times in Tamil cinema.
Director: T.J Gnanavel
Cast: Suriya, Lijomol Jose, Manikandan, Rao Ramesh, Rajisha Vijayan and Prakash Raj