Debutant director Franklin Jacob’s Writer will go down as one of the most important films of Tamil cinema. Cut from the same cloth as Vetrimaaran’s Visaranai and Jai Bhim, Writer shines the spotlight on a different aspects of the police department. Tamil cinema has always used police force as a medium to glorify its heroes without touching on their truly human side. Writer turns this trope on its head and gives us a protagonist who has been in police service for over 30 years but has never left the desk.
Watch Writer trailer:
Head constable cum writer Thangaraj (Samuthirakani) is due for his retirement in a few months. In his police station in Trichy, everyone looks up to Thangaraj. He’s duty-bound but at the same time caring and pragmatic. He’s not the buff kind with a penchant working out and can barely run a few metres before gasping for breath. For years, Thangaraj has been working towards setting up a police union, despite facing stiff opposition from his department and seniors. When Thangaraj gets transferred to Chennai and crosses paths with Devakumar (Hari Krishnan), a Dalit-Christian PhD scholar, his life takes an unexpected turn.
Unlike most cop movies, Writer isn’t just about the corrupt police officers in the system, but also focuses on the cost some men in the force must pay for the recklessness of their seniors. As a line in the movie goes, ‘anyone without power in the force is a servant’. As much as Writer is about some power-abusing police officials, it also talks about the mental health of policemen and the constant pressure they’re under on a day-to-day basis. The film tries to humanize policemen instead of turning them into crime-fighting, never-tiring heroes. The film also addresses the issue of caste-based discrimination, a recurring theme in films headlined by Pa. Ranjith (who has produced this one), and one that deserves to be discussed more often and openly. Thankfully, this isn’t a film only about the men in the department. There’s a powerful subplot involving a female officer (Ineya) from a lower caste, aspiring to become a police horse rider.
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Samuthirakani brings so much of life into the role of Thangaraj, and it’s a performance that truly stands out. He makes Thangaraj not a helpless police constable but one with a conscience, and I doubt if any other actor could’ve pulled off this character as effectively as him. Hari Krishnan as the helpless Dalit victim who’s retained without a reason is another performance that’ll stay with you for a while. The entire stretch involving his character is both haunting and heartbreaking. The helplessness that Hari Krishnan brings out through his performance will leave you gutted. Kavin Jay Babu as the north Indian Deputy Commissioner is the kind of villain Tamil cinema has rarely seen, and he’s brilliant from the first frame. His heavy Hindi-accented Tamil is the perfect icing on the cake his performance needed. Ineya, too, shines in a very important cameo.
Writer is the kind of film that goes beyond the meaning of entertainment, and it leaves you enlightened. It makes you question the very department that’s meant to protect us and be at our service.
Director: Franklin Jacob
Cast: Samuthirakani, Dileepan, Ineya Hari Krishnan, Kavin Jay Babu and G.M Sundar