A stone-cold night gradually dissolves into the grips of darkness. A longing, a mistake, a conquest, a chase and a captive are tied as one with the winding night, their fates and course intertwined by chance and by destiny. Picking these fine logs of potential stories, carefully mounting them on the ground, arranging each log in an impeccable order, Lokesh Kanagaraj fuels them the prompt amount, breathing fire into their midst. The wood then cracks open in the fire, their enormous flames spreading intense heat, fuming in the dark as the tension ruling this hour of the night emerges palpable.
This ignition is no small feat, it is demanding for it requires an eye, a vision for choosing and setting up the right and a resolve to wade through the chilly night bearing a heavy torch that will provide adequate heat and light as one heads towards the dawn. This massively entertaining and masterfully crafted action thriller grows wild and fiery as it storms through this tense night propelled by its solid writing and a sharp, powerful direction that exploits and elevates its mass hero premise to an optimal level.
The film devotes the energy of its elaborate initial moments to effectively constructing the core of all its conflicts, establishing its elements in and around, towards a meaty plot build up that pulls the viewer into the heart of its tensity and starting from here, it never lets go off its strong hold. With the story and its central character device taking an upper hand to accommodate a star, he fits in bearing the bestowed strength and his very own formidability channelizing the vitality into the core of the fire. An ancient British modelled police office, 840 crores worth of drugs, an unseen master criminal, his network of gangsters, drugged police officers, one Kaithi to the rescue. We sit up as the chase kicks in.
The titanic quality, its exclusive solidity and suspense found in the pivotal character Dilli aren’t just limited to him. It adds up to Adaikalam, the chief smuggler and in a heartening way, this streak of heroism is visible in Napolean (played movingly by George Maryan).
The fine touch of mystery adds to the might of Dilli rendering him almost angelic besides laying the ground for a potent prequel. He it seems is a god-send in the form of a tramp, a saviour and a seeker of vengeance whose stories known and sides seen are few while those that remain unfamiliar and unseen loom excitingly large. We hear of him prior seeing him. True to all mass openings. However, here we are told that this man possesses no identification documents and never looks into one’s eye as he is being addressed.
As Bejoy, the cop cries for help, we head to Dilli, the saviour to be seated inside the jeep, soaked in shadows, a distant white light shining between him and Bejoy. Dilli isn’t ready to help for he has other emotional commitments to attend to yet he gives in to the threats and promises of the police officer. The efforts at humanising Dilli bring an inclusive sentimental quotient to the tale yet also hint at the larger riddle around his entire redemption relating to the Thiruvilayadal of the Lord.
The dimensions of his character, his stories and pursuit all blend in extensively well and with no intrusions to credibility even sans this undercurrent. Yet with the Vibuthi smeared over his forehead, sacred pearls around his neck, an attire of faded saffron, it is told Dilli is out on a pilgrimage and with his quest, the second-guessing begins, a pilgrimage or a hunt? The devouring of a bucket’s biriyani and meat, slipping into a trance like state with every mouthful, the music throbbing as he sucks at the bones are strongly suggestive of an unfolding hunt as the guardian angel begins to soothe an infinite hunger.
The widely and distinctly used god’s point of view as the truck trails down the dark, deserted roads and as men clash in their attempts to kill Dilli substantiate that all of them constitute a part of something larger, beyond their control and comprehension. They are devices in the playground of life and the chequered floor of the police office does hint at the same- the chess of life. Even the name Dilli is itself of an old English derivation meaning ‘idol’ or ‘god’.
In a conversation ‘Kamatchi’ points out that Dilli must have missed out so much on what is currently happening in the world and Dilli’s retort bears a strong relevance to our current discourse, he goes- “Jail enna Sevagraguthulaya Iruku? Unnakum ennakum oru sevaru thaan vithyaasam.” It is a wall that separates Kamatchi and him, not any cosmic components and this wall might be very well of a mental or spiritual construct. The predominant presence of fire emanating heat and light adding to the ethos of the restless night offer a viable scope for evidencing this intriguing interpretation of the god-like nature to Dilli, the prisoner who frees the trapped. As long as he is with them, no harm shall befall.
As these men take refuge in the hills, Dilli prays out aloud to Lord Shiva and Kaamatchi tells him that they are cornered, ‘Malai ah suthi aal nikuraanga.’ The henchmen while stating Dilli’s vigour says, ‘Arul vantha maari aadraan.’ He acts as if he is possessed by a divine force. When Kaamtchi tells Dilli that he doesn’t believe in god, Dilli funnily remarks, ‘Oru Naal Nambuva.’ With the murder of a young boy, the idol penchant around his neck drops off and is held to dearly as the only memento.
This vividly constructed angelic feature enhances the essence and effect of the usual hero tropes, especially in the resurrection scene where a stabbed Dilli rises back to life when a lovingly bought present is crushed to dust. He is literally given all transcendental power and his exercise of the same within the film’s solid premise both enthrals and entertains. The culmination of all this raging energy in the rapid, flaming RudhraDhandav with the Gatling is an ultimate hoot and with Napolean beside, this is an indomitable heroic duo.
The writing and execution of these thrilling action sequences throughout stand as a work of utter brilliance, an intriguing instance is the first confrontation in the forest as Dilli hears Amudha’s voice the first time. At the very instant, he also realises that they are being attacked. His iris dilates, the shock and emotion wresting in the tender space as the trunks of the trees shatter the glass panes of the speeding truck, its sharp green shards filling the muddy floor. Dilli gets out then slow and in style, the leaves rising up in the dust, his cuffed hands tucking his dhoti and his modest slippers levelling the ground, walking through the shards. Later he tells that when he heard his daughter’s voice the first time, his heart was shattered (alike the truck’s glass panes) ‘Manasu Udanjupochu’, he heaves.
The style and substance found here keep rising to a striking scale in all that which follows.The mystique to the Kaithi prolongs as he walks through the highway road on the new serene morning with his Amudha. Maybe there was something more than what occurred to Viji, something that he wouldn’t tell us now.
We shall never know, we don’t need to as this power packed film, prior fading on the wide screens stirs our intrigue in its staunch final touches, promising a towering return.