Spoiler alert: Sorry, I could not write without some spoilers and that’s why I posted this little late.
This was one of the most awaited movies for me this year just because of a honest director by the name Balaji Sakthivel. For some of my readers who can’t identify him, his movie “Kaadhal” was one of the most venerated Tamil movie by people like Anurag Kashyap. A torch bearer for realistic cinema , Balaji Sakthivel evoked a lot of interest through the trailer of this movie.
Vazhakku En 18/9 is a social commentary sugar coated with a simple love story. A girl gets attacked in a posh apartment complex and the police investigate the crime. A boy who works in a street food shop is wrongly suspected due to his earlier tiffs with the girl. The story travels through the path of finding the real attacker and shows how the case gets twisted at the end.
Balaji Sakthivel has tried to depict the darker shades of the city, to be precise one side of story . Rather trying to understand his motives of this social commentary, I am going to try and review the movie as it is. One of the most striking things about the movie is the way Vijay Milton has handled his camera. Hugely inspired by Iranian camera work, the camera travels inside the movie rather shooting it. Largely shot through Canon 5D, the rawness in the camera work baffles you but at the same time I couldn’t understand the extensive usage of snorricam shots (having the camera mounted in the front).
Although one would feel that the first half has some disjointed sequences, the director makes sure he links everything in the second half. The usage of symbolisms in many places like the used bottle, used plastic cover, thoughtfully used Thirukkural in the police station shows the mastery of the director. At the same time, the director has tried to address a lot of issues that doesn’t gel with the story line. The deviations are more of a distraction to the proceedings of the movie .
The lead actors are adequate and the best casting is the person who has portrayed the inspector role. Natural and brilliant. But using non-actors for other roles has not worked in this movie. They are quite conscious about the camera which defeats the purpose. Both the songs are poignant and makes you think why Prasanna doesn’t do mainstream cinema music. In the background score, they have sampled Prasanna’s music (I waited for the credits to roll), so you can’t expect much from it. But the percussion in the background fits perfectly for the narrative.
Balaji Sakthivel has tried to portray the darker side of Chennai but trying to paint one side as totally black and the other side as totally white shows the creative bias of the man. He stumbles terribly in the climax when he opts for more cinematic climax rather than a realistic one. My movie ended when the guy went to jail and probably would have had another scene where the other guy scouting for the next victim. That’s how a realistic cinema director would have handled it and when the retribution scene came in, I was “damn,you too”.
Kaadhal worked because the stark reality in the climax struck people like a bolt. Vazhakku En has that cinematic compromise that’s painful to watch.
Vazhakku En is not a classic like most of the people claim. And at the same time, it’s not bad too. But the bigger question is, is this the realistic cinema that we want to see?
A 2.5/5 and judgement reserved whether this is realistic cinema.