Based on the novel 'Lock Up' by Chandra Kumar, Visaaranai is a shocking, never before shown portrayal of the Indian police force, with the action set in Guntur and Chennai. It is about how innocent men are framed by a bunch of corrupt cops, who are under all sorts of political influences and other pressures.
The film leaves you tense while watching, due to the physical violence involved and also due to the situations and circumstances shown. The role that food plays in police stations, where physical abuse is involved, makes your stomach churn. It is a director's film totally, and all the actors involved such as Dinesh, Samuthirakani, Kishore, Murugadoss, Ajay Ghosh and the rest, have come up with strikingly 'real' performances.
Under the right directors, Dinesh is an A-Rate actor and he conveys emotions such as pain, nervousness, helplessness and a steely resolve, so effortlessly. Murugadoss brings about a chuckle now and then, with the references to his broken tooth. The humor quotient otherwise arises from moments where we are shown the smart modus operandi of the cops and how they look to save face and salvage a situation.
Anandhi gets a few minutes of screen time as a Telugu girl, and there is a subtle tinge of romance between Dinesh and Anandhi which is a background element of the film, and never thrust into the main picture. Kishore has to be saluted for accepting such a character where his dignity is stripped down. You have to see what all is done to his character (a big shot auditor), which is a key driving force of the film once the action shifts to Chennai in the 2nd half. Samuthirakani plays a cop who is caught between his conniving seniors and his own conscience, as he acts by orders to complete some extraordinary tasks.
Ajay Ghosh as the bald Telugu cop is menacing and you really feel for the fellows who are framed for a crime which they haven't committed. All the other Telugu cops play their parts to perfection, while E.Ramadoss as the senior police pro who has his unique way of executing things, is a revelation. The other boys who play the dispensable pawns tug at your heart strings with their portrayals.
The film is just under 2 hours with no songs, and GV Prakash complements the film with his apt RR. With the mood being mostly grim, he has used cellos and violins to add to the pathos. The other moments are also aided by GV, whose music wasn't apparently a major presence in the festival cut.
The visuals of DoP Ramalingam are stunning in the tense climax encounter, which happens at night in a residential locality. With most of the film happening inside a police station and inside lock-ups, Ramalingam has played around with light sources to capture the action appropriately. Not a single scene looks out of place hanging loose, and that's the taut nature of Visaaranai, thanks to late editor Kishore and Vetrimaaran.
To sum up, Visaaranai is more a brutal eyeopener on the harsh reality surrounding the nature of police investigations. It is definitely not for the weakhearted. Director Vetrimaaran is in complete command and stamps his class all over this film. Though the subject matter lends itself ideally to a telefilm or a documentary, now through a mass medium like cinema, it is bound to create quite a splash once it releases.
You may never look at the cops carelessly again. TERMINATORS ALERT !!! FEEL THE IMPACT !!