The latest Tamil four-part anthology Victim is directed by Venkat Prabhu, PA Ranjith, Chimbudevan and Rajesh. Streaming on SonyLiv, only one part of this anthology truly works. And it works so well that everything else pales in comparison.
Director Pa.Ranjith’s movie has a bust of Buddha right in the middle of sprawling farmland. It seems like a lazy afternoon, as a farmer Guna, played by Guru Somasundaram, is irrigating his piece of land. He’s tolling away under the sun diligently as his lone daughter tries to amuse herself with everything she can find in the field. She climbs up on the burst, sits around the shoulders of Buddha, and tries to fly. And that sight angered her father. “Get down from the god,” he orders. The daughter Kema is no pushover. “Daddy, Buddha has said there is no God and you calling him one?” she shouts back, rolling her eyes at her father.
Her father is no mood to take his spiritual lessons from her. He walks down to her and tries to make her step down from the Buddha. And Ranjith pulls away a wide shot allowing us to see this beautiful set against the lush green field. Kema is playing on the shoulders of Buddha and her father standing next to her. There’s a lot of innocence and serenity in the scene. And all those things were about to come apart with the arrival of a bitter man Shekar, played by Kalaiyarasan. He seems to nurture a deep-rooted grudge against Kema and Guna. A trivial issue soon spirals out of control. One thing leads to another thing, in an ensuing fist fight between the two adults, Shekar gets his throat cut. It’s an accident and Guna has nothing to do with it. But, Shekar’s family is not ready to reason with Guna. They are blinded by hate and rage and rush to the spot not to save Shekar’s life but to take Guna’s. In the ensuing acts of pure madness, Ranjith captures the default nature of the human condition to lash out and pile on more destruction, without any rationality, which is a pivotal point, when humans turn into irrational animals.
Filmmaker M. Rajesh has called his film a thriller. But, what he ends up giving us is a horror show, with no real value in it. A Bengaluru-based techie travels to Chennai as part of her official duty. Her company has provided her with an independent house on the outskirts of Chennai. And the property she is going to stay in has a bitter history. Just six months ago, the housekeeper’s whole family, barring him, died by suicide by setting themselves on fire. And what follows for the next 20 minutes is a mediocre show that makes Rajesh, who is the director of a few hits, look like an amateur. The movie is clumsy and it’s very tough to make any sense of what’s happening in it. When a director feels there is a need to put a lengthy message at the end of the climax to underline the film’s core message, it is clear sign of a failure.
Kottai Pakku Vathalum..Mottai Maadi Sitharum!
Director Chimbudevan’s movie is a fantasy drama or so we think. Set against the backdrop of Covid lockdown, a reporter finds himself at the end of his tether. If he can’t give an interesting story to his magazine, he may well kiss goodbye to his job. So in some lockdown delirium, he believes that grinding a few betel nuts will make a spiritual guru, who is allegedly 400 years old, come knocking on his door. Desperate times, right? Even when we give such a massive leeway to the filmmaker, he fails to make anything work. All we get is the broad strokes of how bad humans are when compared to all other living creatures in the universe. Chimbudevan hasn’t even made an effort to back up his narrative with some philosophy. It’s just a bunch of lazy rehashes of the wisdom of a simpleton. Even the presence of Nasser and Thambi Ramaiah fails to make this better.
Filmmaker Venkat Prabhu’s movie seems to be inspired by a hostage drama. The film may remind the audience of director Joel Schumacher’s 2002 thriller Phone Booth. But unlike that film, Confession does little to draw us into the narrative. The sloppy dialogues, staging and performances, render this film ineffective and don’t make us drop our jaws us the floor like Venkat may have imagined when he envisioned a rather dishonest climax.