Cast: Vijay Yesudas, Bharathiraja, Amritha, Kavitha Bharathi, Manoj Kumar, Nitish Veera, Kalaiarasan, Satish, Kanya Bharathi, Nisha, Sindhu, Dindugal Alex, Suresh Eeka and others
Music: Karthik Raja
Padai Veeran, which marks singer Vijay Yesudas’s debut as an actor in Tamil cinema, looks to showcase the strong caste divisions that exist in society even today and the sense of false pride and egotistical mindsets that aid in its prevalence and practice.
It captures the grim realities of our society as they are and reminds us of the fact that we have a long way to go in eradicating the evils of the caste system.
The story of the film comes from the heartland of Tamil Nadu and is rooted in realism.
Muneeswaran (Vijay Yesudas) is a wastrel, whiling away his time in good-for-nothing activities including drinking, causing trouble and loafing around.
The village he comes from has two communities that are waiting for an opportunity to have a go at each other.
While the Upper castes are intent on maintaining a status quo and showing the lower castes, ‘who is the boss’, those from the lower castes are intent on proving that they are not inferior to anybody in any way and that times have changed.
Although tensions are simmering underneath, both communities greet each other cordially in places in the presence of government authorities to give them the impression that all is well.
It is in this village that Muneeswaran, along with his pals from the same upper caste community, leads a carefree life.
A strange set of developments result in giving Muneeswaran the impression that the life of a policeman is probably what he should aspire for. Muneeswaran believes that becoming a policeman would not only give him an opportunity to make money, get free booze and non vegetarian food, but also enhance his position in a society in which caste divisions run deep.
This thought makes Muneeswaran, who has no goal until that point, suddenly change his mind. His ambition, if one can call it that, is to become a policeman.
Thanks to the rampant corruption in the police department, Muneeswaran, with help from his uncle Krishnan (Bharathiraja), an ex-serviceman, gets selected to the police force despite coming up a cropper in the selection tests.
Meanwhile, Muneeswaran’s relative Malar (Amritha) is a typical tomboy who does not hold back when it comes to giving it back to those daring to take her on. Muneeswaran and Malar are constantly at loggerheads over petty issues.
Malar’s ambition is to get married to a man with wealth and social stature. As luck would have it, all the wedding proposals that come her way do not materialise for one reason or the other. In short, the lady is desperate to get married.
One day, a prospective groom and his parents, after visiting Malar, say no to the alliance and walk out. Just when Malar and her family members are coming to terms over what has happened, Muneeswaran insults Malar by telling her brother that no man would be willing to marry another man.
He asks Malar’s brother to find his sister a good wife instead of searching for a husband for her. The insensitive statement touches a raw nerve.
Malar’s dejection at having been rejected soon turns into rage on hearing Muneeswaran’s words. She decides to seek revenge. She seduces Muneeswaran and makes him see her feminine side and makes him fall in love with her, giving him the impression that she too is in love with him.
Smitten by love, Muneeswaran is on cloud nine when he gets a an enrolment call to the police force. As per procedure, Muneeswaran heads to the training camp for police cadets. The man is under the impression that he will get good food with meat and alcohol at the camp. Sadly for him, he finds that life is completely different at the camp from what he had imagined it to be. He sees his life turning into hell with senior officers attempting to discipline him. Unable to take it anymore, he runs away from the camp one night and returns home.
The next day, police officers from the camp land at his place to drag him back to the camp but just as Muneeswaran struggles to get away from them, Malar insults Muneeswaran by saying that one should not expect him to fire a rifle like a man and that they should look to get him married to a real man.
Muneeswaran is stunned by the insult and gets to understand that Malar has been playing a game all along. He returns to the camp and completes the course to become a policeman. But just as he gears up to enjoy his holidays after the gruelling training period, there comes the news that his unit’s leaves have been cancelled as riots have broken out as a result of clashes between members of two communities in his village…
Singer Vijay Yesudas does a fairly good job as Muneeswaran. In particular, he impresses as Muneeswaran the policeman. The man has a penchant for acting as he is even able to evoke laughter through his comical acts. On the whole, not a bad effort considering that this is his debut performance.
Amritha as Malar owns the character despite initial hiccups. Amritha’s acting skills come to the fore in the scene where Malar chooses to take revenge on Muneeswaran. From being a crestfallen, sad girl, she turns into a cunning, seductive charmer within seconds. Amirtha shows she has immense potential if she gets the right roles.
Veteran director Bharathirajaa, who impressed us with his performances in films like Kurangu Bommai, again comes up with a good performance in this film.
Other actors who make an impression are Kavitha Bharathi as Periasamy and actor Akhil who plays an officer leading Muneeswaran’s contingent.
The film has brilliant background score by Karthik Raja and good cinematography by Rajavel Mohan.
Director Dhana’s story is refreshing on the one hand and disturbing on the other. While the plot is fresh and rooted in realism, what is disturbing is the violence and the mindset of the characters showcased. Nevertheless, Padai Veeran is definitely worth watching once.