The latest Tamil four-part anthology Victim is directed by Venkat Prabhu, PA Ranjith, Chimbudevan and Rajesh. Streaming on SonyLiv, only part of this anthology actually works. And it works so well that everything else pales in comparison.
In the film by director Pa.Ranjith, a bust of Buddha stands in the middle of vast farmland. It seems like a lazy afternoon when a farmer Guna, played by Guru Somasundaram, irrigates his plot of land. He toils diligently under the sun as his lonely daughter tries to amuse herself with whatever she can find in the field. She climbs on the burst, sits around Buddha’s shoulders and tries to fly. And that sight made her father angry. “Get off the god,” he orders. The daughter Kema is not a go-getter. “Daddy, Buddha said there is no God and you call him one?” she calls back and rolls her eyes at her father.
Her father is not in the mood to take his spiritual lessons from her. He walks over to her and tries to get her to step away from the Buddha. And Ranjith takes out a wide shot that allows us to see this beautiful set against the lush green field. Kema is playing on Buddha’s shoulders and her father is standing next to her. There is a lot of innocence and serenity in the scene. And all those things were about to fall apart with the arrival of a bitter man Shekar, played by Kalaiyarasan. He seems to hold a deep-seated grudge against Kema and Guna. A trivial problem quickly spirals out of control. One thing leads to another, in an ensuing fistfight between the two adults, Shekar’s throat is slit. It’s an accident and Guna has nothing to do with it. But Shekar’s family is not yet ready to reason with Guna. Blinded by hatred and anger, they rush to the spot to save not Shekar’s life, but Guna’s. In the ensuing acts of sheer madness, Ranjith captures the standard nature of the human condition to lash out and drive more destruction, without any rationality, which is a crucial point when humans turn into irrational animals.
Filmmaker M. Rajesh calls his film a thriller. But what he ends up giving us is a horror show, with no real value in it. A tech from Bengaluru travels to Chennai as part of her official job. Her business has given her a detached house on the outskirts of Chennai. And the building where she will be staying has a bitter history. Just six months ago, the housekeeper’s entire family, except him, died by suicide by setting herself on fire. And what follows for the next 20 minutes is a mediocre show that makes Rajesh, who is the director of a couple of hits, look like an amateur. The movie is clumsy and it’s very difficult to understand what’s going on in it. If a director feels the need for a long message at the end of the climax to underline the core message of the film, that’s a clear sign of failure.
Kottai Pakku Vathalum..Mottai Maadi Sitharum!
Director Chimbudevan’s film is a fantasy drama or so we think. Against the backdrop of Covid lockdown, a reporter is at the end of his line. If he can’t give an interesting story to his magazine, he can say goodbye to his job. So in some locked-down delirium, he believes grinding a few betel nuts will leave a spiritual guru, said to be 400 years old, knocking on his door. Desperate times, right? Even if we give the filmmaker such a huge leeway, he fails to make anything work. All we get are the general lines of how evil humans are compared to all other living things in the universe. Chimbudevan hasn’t even bothered to back up his story with any philosophy. It’s just a bunch of lazy repetitions of the wisdom of a simple soul. Even the presence of Nasser and Thambi Ramaiah doesn’t make this any better.
The film by filmmaker Venkat Prabhu seems to be inspired by a hostage drama. The film may remind audiences of director Joel Schumacher’s 2002 thriller Phone Booth. But unlike that film, Confession does little to draw us into the story. The sloppy dialogues, staging and performances make this film ineffective and not leave us with our jaws dropping as Venkat might have imagined when envisioning a rather unfair climax.