Viduthalai Part 1 movie review: Vetrimaaran film is not for the faint-hearted - Hindustan Times
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Viduthalai Part 1 movie review: Vetrimaaran film is not for the faint-hearted, questions police brutality without fear

ByHaricharan Pudipeddi
Mar 31, 2023 02:13 PM IST

Vetrimaaran's much-awaited movie Viduthalai Part 1 was released on Friday. It features Soori, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Vijay Sethupathi, Chetan and Bhavani Sre.

Vetrimaaran’s Viduthalai Part 1, his most hard-hitting film since Visaranai, isn’t just another film on police brutality but one that exposes the inefficiency of a system which continues to prey upon the weak. The film, which is definitely not for the faint-hearted, is an elaborate, detailed exploration of abuse of power and it dives deep into the psyche of a man, an honest police constable, who is torn between his job and seeking the truth. Also read: Vetrimaaran, Pa Ranjith defend farmers' right to protest

Viduthalai Part 1 movie review: Vijay Sethupathi in a still from the film.
Viduthalai Part 1 movie review: Vijay Sethupathi in a still from the film.

The film is narrated from the perspective of Kumaresan (Soori), a righteous police constable who gets recruited into the team that has been on the hunt to capture Perumal aka Vaathiyar – The Mentor (Vijay Sethupathi), the leader of the local separatist group called Makkal Padai (People’s Army). Kumaresan joins the force with big dreams but little does he know that he would spend most of his time doing menial jobs – from delivering food to every check post through the forest to doing tower duty at night. When Kumaresan accidentally crosses paths with Vaathiyar and later plays a pivotal role in his capture, his beliefs about what’s right and wrong are questioned.

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The film opens with a train blast and the visuals are easily the most chilling scenes one would've seen in Indian cinema in recent years. People’s Army is blamed for the attack which has resulted in 28 deaths and many severely injured. The police department launches operation ‘Ghost Hunt’ to capture Vaathiyar dead or alive. Cut to next shot, we see a bus being frisked at a check post and the police shoot down two men (for carrying weapons) in cold blood when they try to flee the scene. In both the scenes, some lives have been taken but the police killings are justified as they become newspaper headlines the next day. Viduthalai questions the ethics behind police brutality in the most uncomfortable, unflinching fashion. The fact that it narrates the story from the perspective of an innocent constable makes the experience more chilling than one can imagine.

The film unfolds like a crime drama and takes its own sweet time to set up its world. Apart from throwing the spotlight on police brutality, the story also discusses the state of politics in Tamil Nadu in the 1990s. Soori, who has so far played comic roles in his career, is a very interesting choice to play the central character. He becomes a silent spectator – just like most of us - to all the atrocities that happen in the name of police investigation. He brings out the innocence as well as helplessness of his character so effectively.

Vetrimaaran makes some very interesting casting choices. It’s a masterstroke to cast Gautham Vasudev Menon to play a key role. A filmmaker whose films (in the past) glorified cop killings now plays a cop in a film that exposes police brutality in the most hard-hitting fashion. Vijay Sethupathi as Vaathiyar is a no brainer. Even though he makes an extended cameo appearance, he leaves maximum impact in those scenes. Bhavani Sre is a talent to watch out for and the role of the women, who face the maximum brunt, is what makes Viduthalai disturbing at times.

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