Subramaniapuram by M Sasikumar.

Released in 2008 by debutant M Sasikumar who donned the multiple roles of lead actor, writer, director and producer, the movie was a blockbuster and trendsetter. It led to a new trend of retro movies with violent themes and Madurai as the setting.

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Subramaniapuram Lead Cast – Jai and Swathi Reddy                                                                                                                Image Courtesy – ayngaran.com

The movie sans any major stars was a typical masala story of dirty politics, betrayal and revenge where even the innocent love of a young girl gets soiled as she is forced to act in the interests of her family.

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The story is mostly narrated in flashback as we meet a gang of 5 friends – Sasikumar(Paraman), Jai (Azhagar), Ganja Karuppu (Kaasi) and two support cast of Dopa and Dumka. They are petty criminals who spend their time drinking and engaging in minor scraps.

Half the time they land up in the police station and are often rescued by a set of three brothers who are into village politics. This forms a bond between the two groups. Also Azhagar falls in love with the college-going Tulasi who is the daughter of middle brother (ex-councillor) Somu. But it is the youngest brother, Kanagu (played by Samuthirakani) who is the main antagonist and who schemes a murder to help his brother secure a political post and sets the wheels into motion for the ultimate sequence of revenge and betrayal.

The initial hour is filled with antics of the group – some are mildly entertaining as well. The director scores the right note in depicting the Madurai of the 80s and that creates a great interest in the story. He also gets the characterization right and the viewers get engrossed in the possibilities of the ‘Azhagar-Tulasi’ love story.

Adding to the authenticity is the Madurai slang that has been used effectively by the characters and the director uses the local rituals and songs to add more flavour to the movie.

But what follows is a mindless sequence of gore and murder – once it starts it gets repeated endlessly every 10 minutes for brazen reasons of revenge, opportunism, betrayal and renewed revenge. It just numbs your senses and sensibilities – at the end one cannot even quite remember the count of killings that happen at the drop of a hat. It is a ‘Zero-Sum’ game and the viciousness makes everyone lose everything.One instead remembers Gandhi’s quote, ‘An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.’

This is not detract from the strength of the screenplay and narrative – the director is only holding us a mirror by showing us how ordinary youth who missed out on the benefits of proper education can go astray and compound their small mistakes to end up being caught in vortex of violence that they just cannot escape. They are used like pawns in the game played by more adept minds who willingly indulge in criminal and amoral acts to further their petty objectives. And for that the movie is definitely worth a watch.

By: Richard I'Anson Collection: Lonely Planet Images Courtesy: Getty Images
By: Richard I’Anson
Collection: Lonely Planet Images
Courtesy: Getty Images
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