A bloodied war against caste, with no takeaways

Asuran is quite easily discernible as a Vetrimaaran movie and a grippingly uneasy watch. Just like the director’s past ventures with Dhanush, this too is a befitting marriage between good cinematography and sophisticated direction.

The movie, based on a novel by acclaimed novelist Poomani, tells the story of a family from a lower caste background fleeing a village after their younger son gets into trouble with the village’s most powerful people (undoubtedly from an upper caste). As the search widens for the runners, the movie gently slides into a small flashback, one where we see the fate of the eldest son of the family, who also had a run-in with the same strong people.

Dhanush plays the lead in the movie as the father of this grieving family, Siva. He has no intentions other than saving his family from any ill-fate. He has performed with such authenticity that we really forget about the actor Dhanush and slowly starts believing the miseries of Siva. Manju Warrier, as Siva’s wife Pachaiyammal also does a compelling job at making the character and her surroundings believable. Although other performances were up to the mark, they all fail at making an impression on the audience.

Just when you start wondering where all these runaways will end, the movie cleverly changes its gears and the second act begins.

It’s another flashback to an earlier time when Siva is much younger and is doing small-time jobs for the village’s upper-caste businessmen. Here you see the politics of the movie become clear.

The iconic scene where Siva’s love interest (Ammu Abhirami), is asked by some upper caste people to not wear chappals to college sets the premise for conflicts in the second act.

The third act reverts back to the runaway story after setting the foundation for some of the choices that Siva makes, and then blood spills in every shot of the movie with understandable but also arguable stunt sequences, where one too many slices don’t make the protagonist lose blood and die of hemorrhage.

The movie ends with a note from Siva that goes, “They can steal our money and farmlands, but not our education”. This is a curious statement because this is not something we expect to hear after all the bloodshed and fight sequences.

While the movie is capable of putting its point across, it just couldn’t hide the fact that a strong script was what was lacking.

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