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Times of India
Synopsis: A judge decides to bring back the jury system to decide if a woman, who is alleged to have helped her son in assassinating a Gandhian leader, should be hanged or walk free.
Review: Is it a crime to get inspired by a classic film and try to make a similar film in your own language? Is it a crime to make a film that is a veiled critique of a real-life case? Not really. In fact, director Senthil Kumar's idea of exploiting the set-up of Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men to discuss the case of Perarivalan, one of the accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, is an inspired decision. What better way to start a public debate on the issue than by making a provocative film that gives convincing reasons as to why his case deserves a second look?
But the problem is that Senthil Kumar doesn't seem to know how to turn this idea into a persuasive film. In fact, his film is the exact opposite — unconvincing, with writing that makes no sense and execution that is laughable. He begins the film with a pre-credit sequence, an animated one, which shows the journey of our independence (though unnecessary, this is the only portion in the film that is remarkable), before adding that real freedom is only when every man is able to lend his voice against injustice that the nation.
And then we see Velan's mother (Poornima Bhagyaraj) who is in the dock for helping her son assassinate a Gandhian leader. The judge says that he is going to bring a jury and leave the decision of whether she should be hanged like her son or walk free to them. And so we are introduced to the 12 jury members — a motley bunch from various walks of life who, not for a moment, give the impression that they possess the acumen to debate the issue and come to an agreement. One of the members, a rich woman (Urvashi), has come there on an empty stomach and wants them to quickly arrive at a decision so that she can go and eat! There is even a foreigner who speaks only in chaste Tamil!
Like in Lumet's film, one man wants them to discuss the case in depth and that man here is Siddharthan (Shanthnu), a philosopher (is that really a job?)! And over the course of the next hour and a half, he tries to convince the others to give the woman a fair chance. But with fellow members like Jhanavi (Muktha Bhanu), who begins to support him just because she likes him, is his job really going to be hard? His real difficulty is in making us endure the film for its relatively short 95-minute running time. Talk about small mercies!