‘Uriyadi’: A gripping revenge thriller from first-timer Vijay Kumar

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Things look so normal and relatively calm in the first half of Uriyadi (means “breaking point” in Tamil) that by the time I got past the intermission, the ferocity with which the incredibly violent events transpire in the second half slightly caught me off guard.  But it is exhilarating and gives you an adrenaline rush. I never expected the story to go in that direction but just as the title of the film says, there is a breaking point for the characters inhabiting the film and it was only a matter of time before things got really out of hand. And things do get out of hand in spectacular and gory fashion. These characters are four ordinary guys studying at an Engineering college in Trichy, Tamil Nadu.

It seems like their college is the only “advanced” looking establishment in that area. The year is 1999. They go about their daily lives, attending classes and trying to woo girls. The leader of the pack Lenin Vijay Kumar (played by Kumar himself). These students are regulars at a  small restaurant that is located in the vicinity, which they regularly frequent for food and drinks. This seems to be their only form of entertainment. Oh, and there are other things that they do as well – only these aren’t entertainment but “social service”. This “social service” includes helping people who are being mistreated by others and rescuing girls from the perverts in crowded buses. But they do get some fun out of it as well.

Things get increasingly complicated when a local politician, with whom these guys are friends with, intend to erect the statue of their deceased leader in the town, on a land that they happened to own. When the statue is finally erected and is about to be unveiled, some government officials forbids them from doing so. Apparently, someone doesn’t like it and this is when caste-based politics slowly begin to rear their ugly heads and result in a few random acts of violence. The four youngsters get involved every single time – not always of their own accord – and they begin to wonder why they always end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not their fault. And in the middle of all this is a scheming manipulator who wants to take advantage of all this chaos.

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The violence, when it arrives, is swift and brutal and is not for the faint-hearted. It begins as small increments and gradually increases in intensity as the story progresses.There are few moments of humor as well. If there is one minor quibble I have with the film, it’s the unnecessary romance track. But it doesn’t affect the flow of the story that much and thankfully, Kumar doesn’t pursue it in the rest of the film. No need for explanations. We get it – the boys have got better things to do. There is one song but thankfully, there is no dancing or running around trees. It merely serves as a background score and the whole thing isn’t long and drawn out. This is a remarkable debut by Kumar. The film reminded me a lot about other notable directorial debuts like Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi and Rian Johnson’s Brick.

Actually, Uriyadi is a lot similar to Brick in that Kumar subverts an already established and familiar genre and gives it his own unique spin, just like Johnson did. And there are few glimpses of El Mariachi in this – ordinary  man getting involved in violent events and all that.Uriyadi is a fresh take on the vigilante genre. The style is minimalist. Kumar is an Engineering graduate and former employee of companies like Infosys and IBM who one day decided to try a hand in direction. He began work on this in 2013 and finished sometime in 2014. Kumar is also the producer and writer. It took a while for him to secure a distributor and this is why the 3-year delay. He should be an inspiration for young aspiring filmmakers. Kumar’s confidence in his talent and skills is laudable and he is definitely a director to look out for.

 

 

 

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