Sunday, September 20, 2009

Unnaipol Oruvan- Review (4 out of 5)

Kamal the shrewd screenplay writer, reproduces the effect of A Wednesday equating Mumbai terror in the original with serial blasts in Coimbatore and explosion at Meenambakkam airport in the late '80s. References to Best Bakery blaze, Rajiv Gandhi assassination and frequent communal violence in Kanyakumari are made without taking sides. A spoof on former Pakistan President Musharaff is interesting.

What have you come to expect from movies on terrorism? A jingoist for a protagonist with an inexhaustible supply of dialogues and bullets who goes after ultras from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

Far from arousing nationalistic feelings, the movies leave you debating as to which of the two- the guns firing non-stop or the patriotic lines- are more tiresome.

But fit in Kamal Haasan in the scheme of things and you will find that clich├ęs disappear. Unnaipol Oruvan is a hard hitting movie and its becoming a thriller in the process is purely incidental.

A faithful rehash of A Wednesday, the movie has one of Kamal Haasan’s pet themes, debating between right and wrong, moral and immoral and violence and non-violence. It is an individual’s fury against the ineffectiveness of the system which has resignedly accepted violence and terror as its destiny.

Without being preachy Unnaipol Oruvan stays focused on the harsh reality of our times and profers a solution as well. You find yourself taken in by the concept, the script and the pace at which it is told.

Ably supported by the dialogues of Era Murugan, Kamal Haasan has succeeded in touching upon sensitive issues sensibly. Murugan seems like a worthy contender to fill in for writer Sujatha who had it in him to intellectualise even quotidian themes, while cerebally elevating every-day ideas.

Kamal Haasan is a typical middle-class Indian, who could be spotted anywhere on the streets. The angst and agony of an aam admi who is you, me and the man living next door, has been subtly brought out. Kamal claims the limelight for himself even with limited screen space.

Mohanlal is not your usual gun-totting cop but a brainy police officer. Cool and composed in his demeanour, he lends the role the requisite charm and grace. His encounter with Kamal Haasan towards the climax is memorable for the sheer power the two towering film personalities bring to their performances. Kamal Haasan’s superlative portrayal could have been matched only by Mohanlal's acting prowess.

The movie begins with former City Police Commissioner Raghavan Maraar (Mohanlal) recalling an eventful day, which led to his shedding his khaakhi. The protagonist (Kamal Hassan) neither reveals his identity nor his religion. He is the ‘common man’ who vents out his angst by taking on the system, trying to bring it down to its knees.

The Commissioner of Police receives a call from an unnamed man (Kamal Haasan) who claims that he has planted bombs all over the city. The caller urges him to release four terrorists (three Islamic ultras and a Hindu militant involved in weapon sale and all of whom were key players in earlier bomb blasts). Maraar who dismisses it as a crank call, is in for a rude shock after a bomb is spotted at a police station. He ropes in the best among his associates (Ganesh Venkataram, Prem) and even a young hawker to trace out the identity of the anonymous caller. Besides, there is journalist Natasha Rajkumar (Anuja Iyer), who tries to tell the world the common man’s uncommonly dangerous plan. It is an exercise in vain though and Maraar is forced to hand over the terrorists. The twist is when all the four terrorists get killed.

The unidentified caller, without revealing the identity, ends the whole drama disclosing that it was his mission to take their lives. The message he wants to send across to the government is only an eye for an eye is the solution for rooting out terrorism. Pent up frustrations can make a commoner do uncommon things.

The cast includes Prem, Ganesh Venkataram as police cops assisting Mohanlal and veteran actress Lakshmi as State Chief Secretary. All the actors have performed to their potential. Shruthi Haasan’s background peps up the momentum in this thriller with some catchy work behind the lens by Manoj. Without taking anything away from director Chakri Toleti, it must be pointed out that he had A Wednesday, a winner, and two titans to work with. He has taken care of even the minute details. The movie is short in duration ( 1 hour and 47 minutes) but high in content.

Produced by Rajkamal and UTV, Unnaipol Oruvan compels us to take stock of the grim situation we as a society are trying to escape from. The remedy it offers may not be acceptable outright but the debate it most definitely would spark off, is worth the effort.

1 comment:

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