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Saani Kaayidham Review

By DIVYA NAIR
May 06, 2022 14:24 IST
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There have been several films in which we have seen the victim/s resorting to unlawful means to seek justice.
What sets Saani Kaayidham apart is the way it feeds your imagination with disgust, followed by anger and revenge, observes Divya Nair.
Trigger warning: Extreme violence.

Saani Kaayidham (meaning paper made from low quality pulp) is Director Arun Matheshwaran's second film after Rocky.

The film is inspired from true events that happened sometime in the 1980s, and features Keerthy Suresh along with Actor-Director Selvaraghavan.

It opens with a tussle between Maari and Anbu.

When Maari, a 'lower-caste' employee, is asked to clean a dirty toilet by Anbu(who is from a 'dominant caste'), he takes offence, leading to a verbal and physical altercation.

When Maari loses his job, his wife Ponni (Keethy Suresh), who works as a lady police constable, convinces him to apologise to Anbu so they can both work, save money and secure their school-going daughter Dhanam's future.

Things don't go down well between Maari and Anbu and his gang of perverts. Maari spits on the owner's face, humiliating him.

 

To seek revenge, Anbu and his gang take Pooni's senior Inspector Deva's help and brutally gang rape her.

Then they visit Maari's house and burn it down while a drunk Maari and his daughter are asleep.

Maari's stepbrother Sangayya (Selvaraghavan) watches it all helplessly as he is beaten up by the gang.

Ponni files a complaint against her harassers, but they escape while in custody with the help of their lawyer Rani (Lizzie Anthony) and Deva.

Failed by the system, Ponni and Sangayya (who also lost his son and wife in caste conflict) team up to seek justice for their families.

There have been several films in which we have seen the victim/s resorting to unlawful means to seek justice.

What sets Saani Kaayidham apart is the way it teases and feeds your imagination with disgust, followed by anger and revenge.

I wouldn't say I am a fan of blood and violence, but let's say, some crimes are worse because the pain and loss it inflicts stays with you till the end of life.

The scars may heal, the memories may fade, but the pain remains.

It haunts and questions your existence, and that is captured well in the screenplay.

In between grim, raw and brutal scenes of execution, most of which is left to the viewer's extreme imagination, the director has used black and white images of Ponni's daughter and husband to give us an insight into her helplessness and hopelessness.

One of the most striking examples of Ponni's despair is when she fails to recognise one of her perpetrators.

The film moves with Ponni in a single narrative, which may not always be the best way to treat its subject.

The perpetrators are shown in bad light, but there is not much background about their upbringing. So when you watch Ponni deal with her abusers in the most gory circumstances, you don't question her decision.

There is no room for guilt or remorse because somehow it is established that they deserve to be punished.

That, for me, is where the film triumphs.

The film is divided into several parts, all of which add layers to Ponni's fierce character.

While you may want to believe that Ponni hasn't been blessed by good men in her life -- be it her unfaithful father, her drunk husband or the male senior who betrayed her trust -- she nurtures some hope in her stepbrother who has always had her best interest.

The climax is a stark reminder that even though it may seem so, not all is black and white and not all men are monsters.

There is always hope and there may be a silver lining if you really give it a second chance.

Needless to say, this is one of Keerthy's finest performances in a long time.

Dhanush's older brother Selvaraghavan shines in his debut as Ponni's companion in vengeance.

Please do not watch this film with young children or teens or recommend it to someone you know who has been abused or assaulted.

Saani Kaayidham is a gripping story of assault and revenge which whether you like it or not, may not come as redemption for those lakhs of women, young men and women who have been inappropriately touched, gestured at or sexually assaulted at some stage in their life and had to stay quiet, quit jobs or move cities and countries not wanting to come in terms to reality.

Because rape is a crime that cannot be compensated for.

Saani Kaayidham streams on Amazon Prime Video.

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