For those who follow Tamil Cinema it’s a known fact that Mysskin is a maverick filmmaker. His initial films Chithiram Pesudhadi and Anjathey were good examples of trying something new within the strains of the “commercial format”. After that he moved on to make his own tribute to Takeshi Kitano’s Kikujiro, called Nandalala. But sometime last year (2010) things were not going all that great for Mysskin. Nandalala was still lying in the cans (eventually released towards the end of the year) and a project planned with Kamal Haasan did not take off. At that juncture I was very curious to know what Mysskin was going to come up with and the announcement of his next film- Yuddham Sei ( YS from hereon ) took me by surprise. In fact to be honest I was even a bit skeptical about the film.
What surprised me initially was the fact that YS was supposed to be an investigative thriller with Cheran playing the lead as a cop. While I had a lot of respect for Cheran as a filmmaker and have also liked a few of the films done by him as an actor, I have always felt that he had a limited range when it came to acting. His previous film- Pokkisham had only gone on to re-enforce my feeling about the same. Hence knowing that Cheran was to play a cop here made me wonder if Mysskin had made a wrong choice for the main lead. Adding to it were the rumors of the film being inspired by the popular Korean film Memories Of Murder, directed by Bong-Joon-Ho.
YS begins with what looks a trail of serial murders with one unique feature- the amputated arms of the victims being left behind, clearly in a way that can be easily noticed. The case comes to the table of the CB-CID and the chief of the Chennai bureau, (Naren who was recently seen in Aadukalam) entrusts the case to an unwilling JK (Cheran) who is terribly disturbed, as his sister has gone missing suddenly. JK and his team go about methodically trying to solve the case. JK’s approach is to try & connect all the dots and in doing so they come across an old case involving the family of Dr.Purushothaman (Y.G. Mahendran) and Duraipandi (Manicka Vinayagam). While Duraipandi, a textile showroom owner is very much active in his business; the entire family of Dr.Purushothaman is believed to have committed suicide following a series of emotional upheavals. As JK realizes that Suja the daughter of Dr.Purushothaman was missing, he decides to re-open the case once again.
How JK and his team go about covering every element related to the case and how they join the missing links, leading to an interesting climax is what the rest of the film is all about. Here I need to certainly mention that all my initial apprehensions about the film more or less vanished in the course of watching the film. My biggest concern was about Cheran playing the investigative cop and I must say that it was a wonderful move by Mysskin to have cast Cheran as the protagonist. Though the main lead here is an investigative cop, it is not a loud, larger than life character. Here the character of JK is someone who is very subtle and goes about analyzing things more than speaking out. Cheran looks very vulnerable in the scenes when he’s trying to follow up on his sister’s disappearance and looks very much in control when he’s otherwise investigating the murders. A major part of the film’s success ( if I can call it ) lies in getting the characterization of JK right.
The other praiseworthy point about the film is Mysskin’s choice of entrusting 2 key elements of the film to newcomers who have more than delivered what was expected- K the music composer and Sathya, the DOP of the film. Mysskin had so far always worked with Mahesh Muthuswami (DOP) and the results have been always wonderful in their films done together. But with Mahesh this time being unavailable, it gave an opportunity for Sathya (who had interned withP.C.Sriram) to get his 1st individual assignment as DOP. With most of the movie being shot in the night, Sathya’s camerawork effectively brings to life the sober shades, which complements the grim storyline. K’s background score is effective while the lone song in the film-“Kannitheevu Ponna, Katterumbu Kanna” (an item number picturised on filmmaker Ameer and Neetu Chandra) has fulfilled its objective of reaching out to the masses and becoming a chartbuster.
Talking about the rest of the star cast- Deepa Shah who assists Cheran has nothing much to do in the film.Jayaprakash as Judas the pathologist is wonderful and Lakshmi Ramakrishnan as the wife of Dr.Purushothaman is very effective indeed. There are a host of other actors like Selva, Yugendran etc who do what is expected out of them. There are quite a few interesting portions in the film. The fight on the bridge where Cheran tackles his opponents armed with just a nail cutter is certainly to be singled out- brilliant. Also effective are the locations, especially the hideout of the villains. Yes one can say that for those who have been watching a lot of World Cinema the shock value would be far lesser but then one needs to understand that its not often that such films in Tamil get made. For those who complain about the pace of the film, let me say that I did not have to keep looking at my watch during the film and hence the length is justified. All in all an interesting attempt by Mysskin and team, one that can certainly be watched for sure.
Caution- It’s an adult film and hence kindly do not watch it along with your kids . And by the way the movie has nothing to do with Memories of Murder in case if you are still wondering.