I came out of the theatre feeling terribly angry, disgusted, disappointed and totally let down. My sensibilities, intelligence and dignity, sitting in the audience was totally violated and abused not by the story content, which, as it is, is all about insult, abuse and revenge, but purely by the way the filmmaker has made this film. His attitude towards filmmaking, his understanding about the issues that he has taken up, his capacity to tell an engaging story and the depth he brings about in the characters or situations – all come across as being totally pathetic.
Maybe the greatest problem when you go to see this film is the expectations that one has from a Sasikumar film, especially after his thundering success with Subramaniapuram (2008), his directorial debut, and Pasanga (2009), which he produced. Both became cult films in Tamil cinema. So this is the second film of Sasikumar as the director and the expectations are naturally really high. I have seen Subramaniapuram, and was largely very impressed, though finally I did feel let down by the way the violence was handled, which in a way toppled the film. Still, the film had a certain class, good story telling, engaging scenes, a perceptive and gripping screen play, great music, fine cinematography, enthusiastic direction, an inspired team spirit and some decent acting. Most importantly it was an honest and earnest effort, one from the heart. But with this film, the director has reached rock bottom. I was simply shocked that in Eesan, not one of the positives that I have mentioned in Subramaniapuram exist. The director looks confused about his sense of direction and seems to be good only at violence and violation – both on screen and off screen on to the hapless audience. One can even understand or argue, all the films of a director need not be masterpieces. But there is a certain integrity or a certain growth that happens, if not, at least a minimum basic standard has to be there. But this film offers nothing. If you are watching a Sasikumar film for the first time, it could be an even worse experience. None of the characters grow well or are even led properly. The screen play, scenes and shot takings are absolutely shoddy. As cinematic language, there is nothing in it. The story line and the values represented are absurd and sick.
Let’s look at one of the key characters – the Minister’s son. He comes from the legacy of a father, who is influential, corrupt and violent, with many examples of each. In contrast, this boy is portrayed as a decent guy. He has a friends circle of 4 boys, who are grateful to him for being rescued from the police in the first scene, using his father’s influence. In comparison to his friends, he is shown as good, especially good to girls. He enjoys partying, going to bars and discotheque and falls in love with a girl there. He wants to marry her. The girl reluctantly falls in line, when he rescues the girl, (again using his father’s influence) from the police station when all the party revelers of her college are arrested by the police. His father and the girl’s father reluctantly agree for their marriage for their own selfish reasons. So when everything seems to be going right for him, he gets murdered, leaving us puzzled at the interval. In the second half, we come to know, that he is actually a rapist and abuser of women in parties. The brother of one of the rape victims (Abhinaya) named Easan, who is a school going lad, seeks his revenge. Elaborate reasons and motives are given for the boy seeking revenge. While in the case of the Minister’s son, there is no logical reason given to us to believe that he could be a good or bad person. It’s purely whimsical and exploitative on the part of the director and where he wants the story to go. The relationship between the boy and his parents or between the boy and his friends or even between him and the girl he loves are all totally unconvincing and amounts to bad cinematic treatment.
Right through the screening, I was wondering why this Director/Cinematographer team, which worked so well in Subramaniapuram, was simply not clicking in this film. What happened to the team spirit? Where is the honesty or earnestness? For a large part of the film it was looking as if the filmmaker is desperately trying to prove to ‘someone’ that he could handle urban stories and situations (since Subramaniapuram was largely rural based) and that also a story about rich, urban youth. But the effort ends up looking patchy, unbaked and even distorted.
Probably, the only area in the film that can be compared to Subramaniapuram, purely in its tonality, is in the way Sasikumar has handled Easan’s family scenes in the village; and also in the disgustingly disturbing scenes of the girl getting raped (probably ‘his comment’ on how rural values are violated in the urban lumpen value systems) or the perverse violence scenes in the end, when the young boy takes his revenge (probably ‘his take’ on the victory of traditional good values of the rural avenging the urban bad), Sasikumar has again gone overboard reminding me of Subramaniapuram – his temptations for the violent overkill. Moreover, the so called rural values and urban values which he is playing in the film, are purely cliched and even exploitatative. There is no enquiry or depth or ambiguity in these important issues, but only his convenient judgments. The idea of a decent looking character shown suddenly indulging in brutal violence for good or bad or decorating a girl beautifully and vulnerably to make her a tempting target for rape, are all age old techniques of commercial cinema plots, catering to the so-called ‘audience needs’. Yes agreed, the characters in the film could take contrary shades even suddenly, but there has to be continuity in the treatment and the integrity of the director comes into play in such crucial moments in the film. This is where the director must look at the events from a safe cinematic distance. If he too goes overboard enjoying and becoming a titillated consumer himself, the violence depicted within the characters and the film become distorted and topples the film’s sensibilities. It is, in fact, dangerous and a violation of the audience’s sensibilities. The director might still justify this technique to shock you or numb you or hit you hard (so that you do not forget the film) by saying things are bad in the violent world outside, or that he is giving a social message that for every evil there is one Easan (God) who will respond in equal measure, well, in that case all I can say is “Oh my God, please save Tamil cinema”, just as one of the audience members shouted desperately in the middle of the film.
Tamil, Action, Drama, Color