07112021-LSTC-01.qxd 11/7/2021 12:38 AM Page 1 c m y b TRIBUNE Life CHANDIGARH SUNDAY | 7 NOVEMBER 2021 Caste, cruelty... Class! While building up a scathing indictment of the police force and character study of a real-life hero, Tamil film Jai Bhim not even once flags in capturing your attention Nonika Singh I N one of the telling scenes, jail inmates are segregated on the basis of their caste and members of one particular caste are sent back into another jail. If that tells you about the blatant discrimination of tribals in India, in this case, Tamil Nadu, the rest of the film reinforces it with forceful impact. Police brutality is not new to us or Indian cinema. But the extent to which men in uniform can go to oppress the already oppressed is as shocking as revelatory. Before you think this Tamil film, starring one of their superstars Suriya, is one boring sermon or a pitiful account of a pregnant tribal woman seeking justice, you couldn’t be more wrong. Jai Bhim, while building up a scathing indictment of police force and character study of real life hero Chandru (former Madras HC Judge and senior advocate Justice K Chandru), not even once flags in capturing your attention. Much of the credit can go to the star value of Suriya. His charisma is unmistakable as he makes a dramatic entry. Once his pres- JAI BHIM Cast: Suriya Sivakumar, Lijomol Jose, Manikandan, Rajisha Vijayan and Prakash Raj Director: Tha Se Gnanavel Rating: ★★★★ ence as an upright lawyer fighting for the cause of the under-privileged is established, it’s his acting prowess and the script’s potency that keeps you invested. If the wails of Sengenni (Lijomol Jose is terrific) pierce your heart, the torture of tribals, especially of Sengenni’s husband Rajakannu ( Manikandan looks every inch his part) numbs your senses and Chandru’s (an excellent Suriya) righteous stance stirs your conscience. At moments the extent to which the policemen can go to heap atrocities on the marginalised might seem overstretched. But custodial torture and caste-based discrimination are harsh realities and when these involve those who have no voice, let alone recourse to justice, perhaps the reality is far more shocking than reel reality. Just when things become too heavy for comfort, the director intercuts the scene with lively courtroom proceedings. Mandatory songs instead of stalling the tone of the film, actually take the storyline forward. Cinema, we know has no language and for those like us not well-versed with Tamil (we preferred to see the original) learn that nor do emotions. Sure subtitles help but even more than that it’s the emotions writ on the faces of its key protagonists that keep you clued in. There isn’t an iota of chance that you will be able to prevent that lump in your throat. Don’t let the Tamil film tag deter you from soaking into a real life story told exceptionally well. One of the scenes, where Prakash Raj (impressive as always) is seen slapping a man for speaking in Hindi might have triggered a debate among netizens. But for Hindi-lovers, the movie, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, is available in Hindi too. c m y b
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