The film is a historical drama based on Jeyamohan’s short story titled Thunaivan (Companion). Which itself is inspired by the true events of 1990s Tamil Nadu Government repression of rising political and militant agitations. Viduthalai is a political and painful film that makes its audience think towards the exploitation of innocent powerless people by those in positions of power. Just as the title suggests the film is a gripping depiction of the struggle for freedom.
The central character of Kumaresan is played phenomenally by Soori. He starts out as a naïve new police officer who soon comes to grips with the reality of the village he has been assigned to work at. His naivety is constantly challenged by the horrifying abuses he witnesses around him. Unlike his previous work in lively comedic roles, this film has a Soori that performs with subtle vulnerability. Soori does phenomenally brilliant work in this character, displaying the breath of his performing potential.
Vijay Sethupathi is based on Pulavar Kaliyaperumal, a teacher and communist who supported militant groups against the Indian Nation. Vijay Sethupathi has only minimum scenes in the film, all of which his presence is movingly felt through. Every frame he graces us with is thought provoking and enlightening to his ideology. There is a particular scene where Vijay Sethupathi frees a woman from captivity and even though the camera is not focused on his face, the mere hesitant and restraint movement of his body conveys to the audience the brutality of police custody.
It is not an understatement to call Ilayaraja a God of Music. His musical input in the film is angelic, tender and vulnerable. The hit song Kaattumalli brings the innocence of 80’s Illayaraja back to the modern audience. The tune is efflorescent and soulful as the forest the film is engulfed in. The song brings together the innocent and pure love between Soori and his lover against the rich atmosphere of the forest. The lyrics written purely in Tamil by Maestro Ilayaraja brings a rooted essence to this perfect love song.
R. Velraj has done phenomenal work with the cinematography of the film. The finiteness of man against the goliath of nature. The majestic beauty and vastness of nature overpowering man. The segregation between the government, the police, and the villagers, are all so eloquently captured by his frame.
Vetrimaaran has done sensational work in this film not just from an aesthetic angle but from a societal perspective as well. It is a courageous film that yearns to present the unknown history of Tamil Nadu. While the film has been criticised for showing excessive violence, some argue that displaying such violence is important for the public to understand the gravity of the situation.
In conclusion, it is a gripping historical drama and eye-opening film about the realities of oppression. Highly recommended watch for all film lovers of this genre.