JAI BHIM IS BRUTAL, RAW, AND REAL. – அதிகார வர்கத்திற்கு ஜெய் பீம் ஒரு சாட்டையடி!
A group of tribals visit a police officer who is conducting an investigation panel into the disappearance of three tribals who were being probed by the police about a theft case in a scene in Jai Bhim. One man claims he was once detained by cops simply for greeting them. Another tells him about how he was detained simply for attempting to flee because he was afraid of them. After the officers began abusing her, her husband was compelled to ‘confess’ to a crime he had not committed. A little child recalls how the cops pulled him up just because they couldn’t find his father, and how that one episode turned him become a perpetual suspect at school. These individuals are definitely doomed if they did and damned if they did not!
This sequence is a re-enactment of the film’s opening scene. Many inmates are being released from prison. A few officers from the nearby police stations are on the lookout. When a prisoner is released, he is asked his caste. They are asked to leave if they mention the name of a dominating caste. Those who belong to a scheduled caste or tribe, on the other hand, are directed to stand in a corner, where they would be picked up by waiting officers as suspects in the numerous unsolved crimes at their station.
With images like this, Jai Bhim effectively conveys the cruelty and humiliation meted out to the poor by those in authority, as well as the type of defiance required to bring them justice. The film, like Visaaranai and the more recent Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban, is a vehement condemnation of police abuse. Rajakannu (Manikandan) and Sengani (Lijomol Jose) are a married couple who live in Konamalai, near Viluppuram. They are Irular tribe members, and despite their poverty (they still can’t buy a brick house), they are comfortable and cheerful. With their daughter Alli in school and a second child on the way, they have a lot on their plates.
Their joy is short-lived, however, because authorities arrive in search of Rajakannu for a heist. The unfortunate man has been named as the primary suspect just because he went to the house where the crime occurred that day to capture a snake. When the police are unable to locate him, they arrest the pregnant Sengani and a few other tribal members, including Rajakannu’s brother Irutappan. Sengani is eventually released – after being beaten and kicked many times – but Rajakannu and a few others are still subjected to the horrible brutality perpetrated by the guys in khakhi.
Sengani contacted Chandru (Suriya), a virtuous lawyer who fights for the oppressed, when she learned that the three men had escaped and their locations were unknown. But, with the entire system working against them, will they be able to unearth the truth?
TJ Gnanavel, who previously helmed the mediocre drama Kootathil Oruvan, returns with an unexpected sophomore effort, Jai Bhim. This is a visceral, honest, and violent picture, with gritty filming complementing the strong script. It skillfully shows the injustices that are perpetrated against the poor without coming across as exploitative or too theatrical.
Despite being one of the country’s oldest groups, these tribes lack proof of citizenship and are unable to purchase property. When Mythra (Rajisha Vijayan), an adult literacy instructor, attempts to obtain a voter id for them, the local big shot, who belongs to a dominant caste, retorts, “Isn’t it sufficient to simply ask the lower castes to vote for us? Should we also pay a visit to these people’s homes?”
Gnanavel has some fantastic defiant moments. Sengani is played by Lijomol Jose, who has a couple of thrilling passages when she rejects officers’ attempts at a settlement. Manikandan, too, is successful and stands out in the scene when he tells his soldiers that if they give in, their community would be labelled criminals. Sengani and Rajakannu’s relationship is also charmingly shown by the filmmaker.
The film Jai Bhim is based on a true storey of Justice K Chandru, who was a lawyer at the time. Suriya gives this part just the proper amount of fire and sincerity, making the character appear real even as the film and Sean Roldan’s soundtrack try to portray him as a superman who can do no wrong. In fact, his opening sequence would fit right in with a masala film. However, following Soorarai Pottru, this is another memorable performance for the star.
And his interactions with Prakash Raj, who portrays Perumalsamy, the head of the inquiry committee, provide a cool and collected counterweight to the flinching brutality and stirring tragedy. The latter gives a tremendous deal of dignity to a character who feels that in order to maintain democracy, a little amount of authoritarianism is necessary. So we’ve got a lawyer who thinks cops are the worst and a cop who thinks attorneys are the worst working together to make sure justice is served. As one of the judges in the video points out, Gnanavel demonstrates how justice may be protected when law and order work together.
There are simply a few minor blundersin Jai Bhim. Even though the film depicts these moments as recollections of events that occurred over a day or two, the brutality eventually feels like torture porn. In addition, because there are no powerful enemies, Chandru’s efforts to solve the mystery and his struggle in court appear considerably simpler from a narrative standpoint. Rao Ramesh, the advocate general, and Guru Somasundaram, the public prosecutor, never appear to be strong opponents in court for Chandru. As Chandru reveals one cover-up after another, the film helps us realise how far unbridled authority can go to protect the current quo.
But none of this detracts from the film’s emotional effect, which, together with films like Visaaranai, Kirumi, and Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban, offers a much-needed antidote to the Singams and Saamys’ dominance in representations of the police.
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