Review of the film Taanakkaran: A victory march – Cinema express
Police brutality is not new in Tamil cinema. The tool that was once used to magnify the image of “super cops” is now reserved for the hands of ruthless villains. What makes the latter heartless? What feeds the animal in them? What makes them believe that brutality is the only way forward? The only common answer should be “System”. We had movies like Visaranaiwhich probes a cop’s psyche and shows how the system turns good guys into bad guys and ugly guys. Taanakkaran goes further and questions the senseless and cruel practices that recruits undergo during training, even before putting on the khaki.
Starring: Vikram Prabhu, MS Bhaskar, Lal, Anjali Nair, Bose Venkat, Madhusudhan Rao
In the hands of an amateur director and writer Taanakkaran would have been bland torture porn. But the detail Tamizh adds to even the tiniest of all characters, the brilliant direction, and the tight script make the film one of the most important films of the year. I especially liked how carrot and stick conditioning in the police department changes people over the years and how the life-threatening issues of vulnerable recruits are viewed as increasingly insignificant by officers. as their ranks rise.
But Taanakkaran is about the miseries of police recruits, it’s not just about being an emotional drama. In a way, it’s also a sports movie, which encapsulates things like leadership, strategy, and camaraderie. But the sporty part comes with a twist. It’s not football or cricket, it’s parade! Yes, you heard right. I was a bit skeptical about the engagement factor in this competition initially. But Madhesh Manickam’s fantastic frames, Tamizh’s immaculate direction and Ghibran’s driving music together create on-screen magic. The film would have been a treat to watch on the big screen with a community of viewers to applaud. But let’s just hope that the trade-off of the theatrical release will be offset by a wider international audience.
Taanakkaran is a rare film, where each actor gave the best of himself. The performances are great because any part cut from the film can be used as a trailer for the artists featured in it. MS Bhaskar seems to have a penchant for saving his heroic moments for Vikram Prabhu films. As he shattered the theater with a glimpse of an action episode in Arima Nambi, in Taanakkaran it gets a more elaborate and extended moment to win over the audience. Lal who faced laththis on screen last time in Tamil with Karnan, does a role reversal and assaults people with it here. Although he was given the most one-dimensional character in history, Lal carries the role effortlessly and I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount of hate for his Easwaramurthy outweighs the audience’s love for Karnanit is Yama Raja. It was heartwarming to see a clean cop in a movie that talks about the dirty side of policing and it was refreshing to see a capable actor like Bose Venkat play the good guy for a change. Despite the limited space, he sells the role brilliantly and acts as a major pillar in making the climax work.
Main man Vikram Prabhu is in fantastic form and delivering a terrific comeback! While his physically taxing scenes deserve applause, it’s his subtle expressions in the emotional scenes that leave a more lasting impact. The scene where he runs with a dying man on his shoulder and collapses realizing he’s lost him shows what Vikram is capable of, in the hands of the right director.
I liked how Vikram’s Arivazhagan finds his father among the good men he meets in the force, I also liked the reason behind his willingness to be a giver and performer. But I wish I knew what he does apart from being the exemplary nallavan and why he chooses to run for a PC entry instead of a higher rank despite being overqualified. Taanakkaran Also touches on caste politics in the initial scenes and it almost feels like Easwaramurthy’s brutality is triggered by his caste pride. But we’re not sure, because the film fails to explore further in that direction, despite being staged for it.
I’m all for love to flourish under the most random of circumstances, so I can’t fault PC (Anjali Nair)’s love angle with smart and driven rookie Arivu. But Tamizh stops once again just scratching the surface and there is hardly any end to the love story. Also, it would have been nice if Anjali’s Easwari, being the only female in the story, had some agency or say in the proceedings, without just being a spectator of the cruelty at the school of recruitment.
The life-threatening emergency drills in Taanakkaran are a metaphor for the police department or any place that abuses the righteous. It’s not about the first to intervene, it’s always about the last man standing, despite all the obstacles, bruises and insults. Having a vulnerable commoner as a protagonist braving against the odds gives hope. If a film succeeds in entertaining, educating and inspiring hope, what more could you ask for?