Film: Vazhakku Enn: 18/9 (Tamil)
Director: Balaji Sakthivel
Cast: Sri, Urmila Mahanta, Mithun Murali, Manisha Yadav
How do you begin to describe a film that paints a canvas so real, so large and yet so detailed, that for once you are left feeling like an unworthy and completely unimportant blip on a reel of unending tape, existing… yet just existing, not living.
Vazhakku Enn: 18/9 slaps you back into life — it forces you to experience the world around you and makes you realise how irrelevant your trivial problems might be, compared to the tales narrated in this film. Ridden with pain, yet enlivened by strength, this movie will break you down and then sort you out as you are reduced to a mute, sniffling and choking puppet in the hands of a master story teller.
Balaji Sakthivel surprises you and how! After Kaadhal, Vazhakku… seems to mark his return to this genre and not revealing too much of the experience, the story tells several interesting tales, including that of Velu (Sri) and Jothi (Urmila Mahanta), the film’s protagonists.
The movie is a love-story, yes, but it is packed with a strong social message and is in no way a romantic. This is a love-story of mankind — of how we persevere, fight, hate, mete out revenge and yet find time to indulge in pure, untainted love.
Contradicting the rural psyche and upbringing in Velu to the ways of the city and its chaos — political and emotional — represented in characters like Kumaravel (Muthuraman), Dinesh (Mithun Murali) and Aarthy (Manisha Yadav) — Balaji has managed to weave a story with real characters… so real, you’d probably see bits of them in people all around you, henceforth.
At the crux, the story narrates the details of a particularly complex acid-burning case and from the first scene onwards you are convinced of its grit.
From the opening shot — the perspective of a burn-victim in a hospital, to the raw, unyielding visuals of Dharmapuri and Chennai — this film is also a visual treat. The music gives you breathing space in between and teases you with occasional revisitings of songs from Tamil cinema — songs that have endeared us over the years. You’ll be left smiling — we promise (in bits!).
Simply put, Vazhakku Enn 18/9 is the much-sought after cinematic ‘voice’, representing the world we live in — as is — no glamourising, no touch-ups and definitely no un-needed glorifying.