As a film connoisseur as well as a film journalist who has watched more than one million titles of various genres, forms, and from any part of the world for all time, the boredom of watching new films is very big. The reason is, especially if you don’t often find similarities in themes, formulas, even to the storyline between one title and another. Therefore, it is a pleasure to be able to get an unknown film that unexpectedly gives an impressive presentation, as is the case with this Jai Bhim film.
Jai Bhim is a Tamil social drama based on a real-life case of a lawyer’s struggle over the injustice and torture of prisoners against members of a marginalized tribe in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. The film is written and directed by TJ Gnanavel, and stars Suriya Sivakumar as the lead lawyers Chandru, Prakash Raj, Rajisha Vijayan, Lijomol Jose, Rao Ramesh and K Manikandan.
Driven by the desire to find interesting shows that are not Hollywood outputs to fill boredom this weekend, the writer has finally brought the author to the title of a Tamil film on Amazon Prime Video’s OTT service. Curiosity over the fantastic temporary rating, forced the writer to choose this film.
The film, set in 1995, highlights a case that has a major impact on the lives of Sengeni (Jose), a woman from the backward tribe of the Irulars and a lawyer from Chennai named Chandru (Suriya). The conflict began when the police were looking for Sengenni’s husband, Rajuknu (K Manikandan) on charges of being the main perpetrator in the case of the disappearance of several jewelry at the house of an influential figure. The trigger, the investigation was limited to the fact that Rajuknu visited the scene that day to catch the snake that had entered it.
Not finding the person they were looking for, it was Sengeni and his older brother who were taken by the police. During the investigation, they received inhumane treatment from the police. It was only when Rajuknu finally appeared that Sengeni was released.
The husband and two other men from the tribe who were also apprehended as a complement were subjected to brutal torture by the police. The next day Sengeni heard the news that her husband and two ‘colleagues’ had run away and disappeared. Smelling something wrong, Sengeni, with the help of activist Mithra (Vijayan), comes to Chandru, a lawyer whose name is on the rise as a defender of the oppressed. Willing to fight for the Sengeni case. He began to file a case application and conduct an investigation. However, this did not immediately go smoothly, because the defendants apparently had prepared to face the lawsuit with all their efforts to ensure the lawyer’s defeat.
Will Chandru be able to uncover the true fate that befell Rajuknu and his two ‘accomplices’? What does Chandru do when he finds out what really happened? Will justice be served? You have to watch the movie to find out.
Although this is actually a debut work, Gnanavel is clearly very confident in what he presents here. He wasted no time in his storytelling. From the start, it was easy to guess what politics he wanted to advance here in a clear way. Not only about injustice, how the strong pressure faced by the police to investigate cases as soon as possible for the sake of reputation to trigger irresponsible actions is also clearly shown here.
Watching Jai Bhim is more or less reminiscent of the harsh reality that is often read in the news, about cases of injustice that often afflict small communities. What Gnanavel raised here is not something we only hear, see or read once or twice. This is what makes Jai Bhim’s dish so relevant.
As a legal drama film, Jai Bhim may not have an innovative storytelling technique or an unconventional storyline. However, it must be admitted that it is very effective in showing what the filmmaker wants to portray through this film.
Another thing I personally like about this film is that it doesn’t try to be bombastic. This film is presented simply and impressed as it is. There are no scenes or discussions of excessive dramatization, showing differences in the treatment of how the police treat defendants from a higher caste, for example to emphasize the existing depravity.
In terms of duration, Jai Bhim, like most films from India, has a long duration of 164 minutes. However, although some of the scenes in the first half may be presented a little shorter, but overall the presentation is almost no wasted scenes. Supported by Suriya’s charming appearance as the main spearhead, this is the most significant life in this film apart from of course Gnanavel’s skill at staging stories through the spotlight of his camera.
And proven, this formula is very capable. In his directorial debut, Gnanavel has managed to strike the right combination of tackling an important social issue, wrapped up in an effective investigative story, and one of a court scene full of intense intrigue. One of the hidden gems of 2021 that according to the author deserves a big spotlight.
Jai Bhim can be watched streaming on Amazon Prime Videos