Arjun begins a search for Shanmugam, his friend who had eloped with his lover from his village, and uncovers shocking truths...
is proof that you need more than good intentions to make a movie about a social evil. The film is a social drama that unfolds as a mystery but the catch is that unless you have been living under a rock, you would know its revelations even as its sets up its plot. It is by happenstance that Arjun (Sirish) visits T. Vennur, the village of his college friend Shanmugam. Vennur is that kind of place which still practices untouchabilty; two-tumbler system is a way of life here. Arjun learns that his lower caste friend had eloped with Rajeswari, the daughter of the village's big shot Pasupathy (Prakash Raj), an upper caste, with no one aware of the present whereabouts of the couple. So, Arjun begins a search for Shanmugam and Rajeswari which results in startling detections. Only that, they aren't startling to us, the viewers, as the team behind
has been quite vocal about what the film is about — honour killings. And, what could have been a suspenseful drama, a whodunit of sorts, becomes a very predictable film that is only fitfully entertaining.
On the flip side, the film goes about its business with a single mindedness that we rarely see in Tamil cinema. There is an indication of romance between Arjun and Yazhini (Yami Gautam), the latest addition in the list of do-gooder heroines in Tamil cinema, but Radhamohan doesn't make this a separate romantic track that digresses from the narrative. Of course, this also results in us never really getting a real sense of the ticking bomb that is Vennur. You are told the lower caste folk are warm and inviting while the upper caste always seethe and threaten but that's it.
Coming to the subject of honour killings, the film deals with the issue at the surface level, content in using it as a plot device. For all the talk about casteism, Pasupathy could very well have been a rich man who doesn't wish to marry his daughter to a poor man and the film would not feel any different for the basic premise — lovers meeting a gruesome end because of their families' objections — is universal and timeless. Think Romeo-Juliet, Salim-Anarkali or Murugan-Aishwarya from
porakkumpothu irukkara kashtam enga ponathukkum irukkum
," a character belonging to the lower caste quips explaining the predicament of his people in a line that hits the bull's eye. Beyond this there is neither an insight into the mechanics of the caste system nor a solution to the deplorable practice. The characters too are written at just this level, and we never really care for them. Even the performances feel functional. Sirish broods, Yami consoles, Prakash Raj simmers, Sricharan smiles, Nasser explains and that's that. In the end, you do not experience a punch-in-the-gut feeling when the fate of Shanmugam and Rajeswari is revealed. You do feel a sense of righteousness but regrettably, that emotion is only similar to that smug sense of satisfaction you derive after sharing a social message on Facebook or Twitter.