Director: Mari Selvaraj
Author: Mari Selvaraj
Starring: Dhanush, Rajisha Vijayan, Lal, Yogi Babu, Laxmi Priyaa Chandramouli
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Like Mari Selvaraj’s first movie, Pariyerum Perumal, Karnan additionally begins with a horrific dying. The opening credit seem on a black display screen towards the sounds of a busy highway – automobiles, vans, buses, cycles, an ambulance. The highway runs by Podiyankulam, a small fictional village in Tamil Nadu, however visitors not often stops there. The village and its persons are merely a blur within the surroundings. There isn’t any bus cease. So even when a sick little lady or, later, a pregnant girl, waits to be transported, nobody halts to assist. DOP Theni Eswar provides us a god’s-eye view of the visitors plying. The world is detached to the tragedy unfolding. The highway isn’t merely a method out. It’s an emblem of all the pieces that the folks of Podiyankulam don’t have – alternative, freedom, respect, dignity.
Karnan is a robust name to arms. The cycle of oppression is damaged by means of horrific violence, which begins when a younger boy throws a stone. That act, stemming from rage and frustration, places into movement occasions that result in destruction and homicide, however finally to a phoenix-like rebirth. Selvaraj, who has additionally written the story, demonstrates that typically, violence is the reply. The boy jogged my memory of different younger boys whose act of stone-throwing proclaims that they aren’t prepared to be subjugated anymore – Jabya in Nagraj Manjule’s Fandry and the boy in Shyam Benegal’s Ankur – each sensible debut movies and, like Karnan, tales in regards to the tyranny of the caste system.
However earlier than we get there, Selvaraj immerses us into the rhythms and lifetime of Podiyankulam. He doesn’t need us to easily view these characters by means of generic labels of ‘marginalised’ or ‘Dalit’. He desires us to see them as human beings. So there’s a younger lady who aspires to go to school; Karnan’s household – his older, single sister, his always wailing mom and his ineffectual father – are clearly established; as is Draupadi, who loves Karnan with out hesitation or coyness. These names aren’t incidental. Selvaraj reimagines the Mahabharat in order that Karna is now not an excellent man on the unsuitable aspect. He’s a hero who leads his folks to wreck a system that’s rigged towards them. The village head, a clever man who backs Karnan’s aggression, is known as Dhuryodhanan.
It’s these names that get beneath the pores and skin of the investigating police officer Kannabiran, performed beautifully by Natty. He’s appalled that these folks, who don’t actually have a bus cease, have the audacity to present themselves these regal names. Selvaraj skilfully dissects how the caste system works so it isn’t sufficient that those on the backside keep servile and impoverished. They’ll’t be allowed even a sliver of ambition or aspiration. Kannabiran units out to point out the folks of Podiyankulam their place on the planet.
Selvaraj and Eswar seamlessly combine tonalities, transferring from naturalistic textures to myth-making. They even embody a working thread of magical realism, which is the weakest hyperlink within the movie. From the onset, Karnan is established as a saviour, shot in silhouettes and low angles. Proper after the opening titles, composer Santhosh Narayanan’s terrific music ‘Kanda Vara Sollunga’, which implies ‘when you see him, do inform him to return’, reveals us the whole village ready for Karnan to return. We perceive his significance by means of the eyes of the villagers who’re ready desperately for him.
Karnan is each inch the liberator of his folks. However there isn’t a flashiness in the way in which Dhanush performs him. The character may be very a lot rooted within the milieu. Dhanush’s capability to mix Everyman with Hero is outstanding. The others – Lal, Rajisha Vijayan, Laxmi Priyaa Chandramouli and Yogi Babu – are additionally stable. And Selvaraj’s frames aren’t simply stuffed by folks. His gaze additionally takes in animals – pigs, canine, a horse, an elephant, birds and even fish. A donkey with certain ft turns into a working metaphor for the folks of Podiyankulam. He hobbles all over the place till Karan units him free.
The symbolism is heavy-handed and at two-and-a-half hours, Karnan appears over-stretched. However Selvaraj efficiently converts his seething rage into blazing cinema.
You may watch Karnan on Amazon Prime Video.