"How many Sridhar Vasudevan-s have you arrested in your career?", asks the Inspector (played by director Seemaan of 'Thambi' fame) mid-way through the Thamizh movie - 'Evano Oruvan'. In my opinion, that is the crux of the social commentary underlining this movie. More about that later.
I got the opportunity to witness the HSBC sponsored preview screening of the movie in San Jose much prior to its intended December release. Actor/Producer Madavan was at hand to promote the movie and also introduce its non-Tamil director Nishikanth. It was a unique experience with about a hundred audience members showing up and participating in an interactive session with the crew past the movie screening. One such question from the audience was "Why did you decide to portray the leading character as a Brahmin?". Madavan answered the question with a rare insight into Thamizh culture - the Brahmins are the least expected to do anything that challenges the law of the land.
The Tamil Brahmins are the omnipresent yet invisible sect of bustling Madras. The only time they ever rise to spotlight is during the annual music season. Rest of the time, they go through the monotonous self-centered lives that is the bane of urban India. They do not influence assembly or parliamentary elections. A very small percentage of them actually participate in elections. They do not have a talismanic figure anywhere in the democracy framework. They are usually part of a nuclear family catching up with real India through newspapers and water cooler talks. They are everywhere but nowhere. Immensely knowledgeable of the wrongs of the society and equally impotent when it comes to acting upon it.
What happens to the fragile balance of the city when one such Tamil Brahmin resorts to violence and bashes up every wrong doer he comes across in a 48 hour time period? The result is quite chilling.
Madavan sheds his 'Alaipayudhe' image to roll up his sleeves and immerse himself in a subject he believes in. I think it is that much easier to enact a difficult role when you have already played the part sometime in real life. He finally comes out of the self-created dependency on Mani Ratnam to create meaningful roles for himself. Seeman plays the movie's conscience as the Inspector who is an integral part of the corrupt society but is also stressed by his own consciousness. Sangeetha (who crops up with a decent performance every couple of years and disappears) plays Madavan's wife and the real instigator of the psychotic mayhem that follows. She is a housewife who stands to lose her comfort zone when she loses her cause to complain. Following the movie, director Nishikanth candidly admitted how he has used Hollywood movies like 'Falling Down' and 'Taxi Driver' to channel his own observations. These are the kind of movies that we should try and Indianise more. They are reflective, contemporary and chat-worthy.
It is never good over evil. It is more like a war of helplessness and dismay. The situation is quite bleak as the movie does not invoke its license to deliver a message. It does just enough to disturb the movie goer and stir the pot a little.