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All about giving power to the masses and reeking of revolutionary stink, this review finds that Karnan is an instant classic. The Tamil action flick is a gripping tale of a daring man, one who is bold enough to save his ill-fated village even if the consequences are grave.
AT A GLANCE
- Starring: Dhanush, Lal, Rajisha Vijayan, Yogi Babu, Natarajan Subramaniam
- Directed by: Mari Selvaraj
- Rating: **** (four stars)
The film revolves around Karnan, a fearless soul who is determined to give his village of Podiyankulam a much needed bus stop. A bus stop is their clear path to literacy, education, jobs, and progress (basically). However, rotten circumstances don’t allow this to happen.
Be it disputes with the neighbouring village or crooked policemen, Podiyankulam seems to be all alone in its fight for fairness. Sick of the constant exclusion and belittling, Karnan is driven to take a stand for his village and subsequently becomes its hero.
The film is loosely based on the violent events that unfolded when an all-Dalit village in Tamil Nadu was attacked by police in 1995. It seems that Mari Selvaraj was moved to rewrite history in a way that favours the downtrodden.
Karnan’s character is a relatable one, with an award-worthy performance by Dhanush. Anyone who has ever been discriminated against for no reason can relate to his boiling rage. Karnan’s justified agitation makes him an inspiring role model. It is refreshing to watch such unapologetic attitudes towards fighting for one’s rights.
Right from the powerful opening sequence, cinematographer Theni Eashwar’s visual storytelling is deeply engaging. Aerial shots, cut-aways, symmetry, colour palettes and finer elements add to the immersive cinematic experience that is Karnan. I have a thirst for great filmmaking and every frame left me quenched.
While the film employs simple dialogues and supporting characters, the plot is compelling and awesome. Characters of Yeman thatha, Karnan’s closest confidante, and Draupadi, his love interest, are incredibly easy to get attached to. Even the roles of the multiple village elders swiftly become meaningful. The film is also brimming with metaphors of freedom, death, and karma.
And the music is just… sublime. Composer Santhosh Narayanan’s work is a contemporary treasure. He introduces techno beats coupled with traditional tunes in the film’s music score, retaining cultural influences but also making it relevant to current times. His song Kandaa Vara Sollunga has already been widely praised by audiences.
You don’t have to be a film theorist to enjoy Karnan, but it’s impossible to ignore the skilled effort. The film is a blessed duality, a straightforward plot with epic music, elegant storytelling with typical action sequences; Karnan is a must-watch for all.
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