'Viduthalai Part 1' review: Lots to like about Vetri Maaran’s dramatisation of police brutality (2024)

Deciding to be a good person is all fine and dandy, but how do you decide which side to stand for? Who’s the oppressor? Who’s the victim? Who’s right? Who’s wrong? These are questions we grapple with every day. And it’s this extraordinarily relatable question that haunts police driver Kumaresan (Soori, who is a wonderful fit) throughout Viduthalai Part 1. He doesn’t have the luxury of being a bystander, with his job forcing him to take a side. However, where another policeman would unthinkingly follow orders—prioritising self over others—this man is unique, for, somehow, some way, he’s managed to retain his manasaatchi (conscience).

Another policeman points this about him almost as a statement of doom. It’s due to being wired so that Kumaresan is unable to apologise as a compromise. On some level, it seems like he wishes he could, but he simply can’t. He’s not vain about his behaviour; he just doesn’t fit into the usual boxes of a policeman. In a film about the struggle between systemic authority and rebel forces, Kumaresan is arguably the biggest rebel of them all, a man who just cannot obey/submit. Perhaps it is this that truly defines a good man: The refusal to choose convenience over conscience. Viduthalai Part 1 is terrific when it digs into these subconscious, intimate spaces.

'Viduthalai Part 1' review: Lots to like about Vetri Maaran’s dramatisation of police brutality (1)

At a point in his delicate romance with a tribal woman, Thamizharasi (Bhavani Sre), Kumaresan stands confused at a point of ideological divergence. He finds that the anecdotes he’s hearing are at loggerheads with what he’s been fed by the system. I loved that Vetri Maaran, in a way, toys with us similarly. The first time we see Perumal (Vijay Sethupathi) in action, we register him as a brutal killer—not all too different from the policemen, in fact.

But then, we, like Kumaresan, have our eyes opened with more information—and suddenly, we see the truth. Isn’t it touching that Kumaresan’s eyes are opened by something as simple and beautiful as… love? Isn’t that, after all, the great equaliser? As Thamizharasi asks him, “Who’s real family? Those you are related to by blood? Or someone like you, who, at great personal suffering, still chooses to stand for us?” In a sense, she shows him the way. It’s perhaps why for an entire song, ‘Unnoda Nadandha…’, we see Kumaresan following her, as she leads the way through the darkness of the forest, shining a torchlight. The song itself feels longer than it needs to be, but I didn’t mind.

Soori is fantastic as the innocent, dogged Kumaresan. There’s just an innocence about comedy actors that comes through so effortlessly. In Viduthalai, this air of innocence Soori carries about him benefits the character greatly. When he’s resisting submitting to his horrible boss (Chethan), where another actor might come through as rigid in an egotistical way, Soori comes across as vulnerable—which makes his character profoundly likeable. This is Soori in a way we have hardly seen him, and much credit to Vetri Maaran for imagining this. There’s none of the slapstick, goofy humour we have come to associate with Soori in this film. It’s instead replaced by situational, organic humour—of course, in small places where it can exist. I laughed out loud when Kumaresan is asked to accompany a senior officer as he walks into the forest, and he says, “Enakku varla, neenga poitu vaanga.” Even his refusal to be forced into an apology is admirable and funny.

“Thappu dhaanunga ayya… aana epdi thappaagum?” These are such lovely portions in the film. But of course, there isn’t much place for humour in this film. We hear a voice in the beginning say that the events are all fictional, that any resemblance to real people/incidents is purely coincidental. But it all does ring real. A corporate-political nexus is eager to exploit land and resources, and as a side-quest, subjugate the residents living in harmony with said land. The question is, do the corporate organisations, political parties, and the police (who seem to act like security personnel for the rich and the powerful) really care about civilians and their rights? Do they care about anything beyond moneymaking?

'Viduthalai Part 1' review: Lots to like about Vetri Maaran’s dramatisation of police brutality (2)

Vetri Maaran, once again, shows great talent for capturing both the intimate and the expansive. That long, opening shot of the aftermath of a railway bridge explosion is a great example. The camera captures the frenzy, severed limbs, the dead, the crying, the pleas and sobs, the orders… before suddenly rising and moving into one of the train compartments to capture the misery inside. It glides out soon and presents us finally with an aerial shot of the carnage. Vetri Maaran does pretty much the same with the premise of this film. We get the inner workings of Kumaresan’s mind, but we are never too far away from understanding the larger developments and forces at play.

Vetri Maaran isn’t one to flinch from gore and violence. It’s essential to the realism of this film and serves the purpose of eliciting a reaction from us. Like in Visaaranai, the film is constantly asking us questions: Are you seeing this? Are you seeing what’s going on, under the guise of an interrogation? Are you seeing these power-hungry humans lose their humanity? Do you see why it bothers Kumaresan so much? At its essence, the story is drawn from a familiar template: A hunter joining the hunted. And yet, Vetri Maaran is careful not to make Kumaresan the champion of the downtrodden. He’s careful to allow Perumal and team to fight their battles. And in any case, this is just Part 1 of the film, and if I have a major grouse, it’s that we don’t get a sense of completion, despite having spent about 150 minutes on the film. Kumaresan is still foggy at the end, and his moral compass is a bit all over the place. And so, Part 1 ends with some footage from the second film, so we get a sense of what could potentially happen. Perhaps in that film, Kumaresan will finally, truly come of age?

It’s still a relief to know that filmmakers like Vetri Maaran truly care. I’m not talking about cinematic merits alone here; I see real value in their messaging. He cares for the trampled; he sees the value in mounting opposition against the big, bad system (like in Visaaranai). In this first film (even if it’s incomplete), whilst documenting the physical and psychological struggles of a driver named Kumaresan, whilst depicting the tragedies that befall a trampled community, whilst raising opposition to the methods of the police, director Vetri Maaran even manages to get us thinking of a question that’s fundamental to our being. Who’s a good man? If it is true that a good man is one of conscience, one who’s willing to reflect on his own actions and change in the face of compelling information, then it’s clear that Kumaresan is a good man. How far will it take him though? How long before the system fixes its crosshairs on him? Hopefully, Vetri Maaran won’t keep us waiting for too long.

Director: Vetri Maaran
Cast: Soori, Bhavani Sre, Vijay Sethupathi, Rajiv Menon

Rating: 4.5 stars

'Viduthalai Part 1' review: Lots to like about Vetri Maaran’s dramatisation of police brutality (2024)


What is the violence in Viduthalai? ›

People are shot in scenes accompanied by blood spurts. A man's arm is chopped off. Scenes of torture include sight of a man being waterboarded. In the aftermath of a train crash resulting from a terrorist bombing there are scenes featuring heavily bloodstained dead and injured victims, some of whom have missing limbs.

Is Viduthalai Part 1 hit or flop? ›

Viduthalai released on 31 March 2023 in theaters to positive reviews from critics and became a commercial success at the box office.

Is Viduthalai worth watching? ›

The film does not shy away from the harsh realities of the Naxalite movement, but it also offers a nuanced and sympathetic portrayal of the movement's members. The supporting cast in Viduthalai Part 1 is equally impressive, with Vijay Sethupathi delivering a standout performance as the leader of the Naxalites.

Is Viduthalai a rated movie? ›

Is viduthalai based on true events? ›

Although Vetrimaran reiterates that the story is fictitious (probably because of the Censor board rules), it was evident the story is based on the real-life left-wing extremist leader Pulavar Kaliyaperumal (Perumal Vaathiyar played by Vijay Sethupathi) and his Tamil Nadu Liberation Army.

Are kids allowed for the viduthalai movie? ›

Tension in cinema after authorities disallow children to watch Viduthalai Part 1 - The Hindu.

Is viduthalai a flop? ›

Is viduthalai part-1 Hit or flop? Overseas Collection - ₹ 9 Cr gross. WOW!!!! Thus the film is a HIT at the box office without adding the OTT satellite Rights amount also!!

Is viduthalai 18+? ›

It is well known that the film received an A certicate (Adults Only) from the CBFC and one has to be above 18 years of age to be admitted inside the theaters. On Saturday the police raided a multiplex theater in Virugambakkam, Chennai that screened 'Viduthalai 1'.

What is Viduthalai Part 1 about? ›

Is Viduthalai Part 1 a true story? ›

Although the film includes a disclaimer through the voice of director Vetrimaaran, stating that it is an imaginary story, it draws inspiration from real-life incidents and some literary works. Vetrimaaran is known for being a voracious reader and for adapting literary works to the big screen.

Why is Viduthalai rated A? ›

Seems, it's another raw film from Vetri Maaran, and that's why the film has received an 'A' from the censor board. 'Viduthalai' is based on the novel 'Thunaivan' written by Jeya Mohan, and the film has Soori and Vijay Sethupathi playing the main roles.

Is Viduthalai based on a novel? ›

Q2. Is 'Viduthalai - Part 1' based on any novel or story? A. Yes, the film is based on the story 'Thooyavan', written by Jeyamohan.

What is the budget of Viduthalai? ›

Vetrimaaran added that despite initially committing to completing the entire project within a budget of Rs 4.5 crore, the budget for the first part alone escalated to Rs 65 crore.

Who is the heroine in the viduthalai movie? ›

Bhavani Sre was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. She is known for Viduthalai Part 2, Viduthalai: Part 1 (2023) and Ka Pae Ranasingam (2020).

What happened to Tamilarasi in viduthalai? ›

Tamilarasi is also violently raped, but nothing of her is discovered after the interrogation.

What happens in viduthalai? ›

Vetrimaaran's "Vidhuthalai," tells the plight of people from scheduled castes and tribes who are constantly pressured to give up their land. To ensure that this does not happen again, they have a hero who defends them and encourages them to fight back.

What is the theme of the Viduthalai? ›

Viduthalai is a powerful and thought-provoking movie that delves into the complex issues of social injustice and environmental exploitation. The film highlights the struggles of the marginalized communities and their fight for freedom against the powerful authorities.

Why is viduthalai rated? ›

Seems, it's another raw film from Vetri Maaran, and that's why the film has received an 'A' from the censor board. 'Viduthalai' is based on the novel 'Thunaivan' written by Jeya Mohan, and the film has Soori and Vijay Sethupathi playing the main roles.

What happens in viduthalai part 2? ›

It follows Kumaresan, a constable, who is recruited to arrest Perumal, a teacher and leader of separatist group. Soori, Vijay Sethupathi, Bhavani Sre, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Rajiv Menon, Ilavarasu, Balaji Sakthivel, Saravana Subbiah, Chetan and Munnar Ramesh reprises their role from the first film.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Horacio Brakus JD

Last Updated:

Views: 6037

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Horacio Brakus JD

Birthday: 1999-08-21

Address: Apt. 524 43384 Minnie Prairie, South Edda, MA 62804

Phone: +5931039998219

Job: Sales Strategist

Hobby: Sculling, Kitesurfing, Orienteering, Painting, Computer programming, Creative writing, Scuba diving

Introduction: My name is Horacio Brakus JD, I am a lively, splendid, jolly, vivacious, vast, cheerful, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.