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Review Tamil

Victim review: Yet another patchy anthology that needed more work at the scripting level

Release Date: 05 Aug 2022

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Sonal Pandya

While there is promise in the segments by Chimbu Deven and Venkat Prabhu, the one by Pa Ranjith is the saving grace of this SonyLIV anthology.

The latest anthology film on the block is SonyLIV’s Victim – Who Is Next? (2022) that examines unconventional stories that supposedly skews viewpoints, asking us to re-examine who exactly is at fault in these circumstances. The four diverse stories are helmed by Chimbu Deven, Rajesh M, Pa Ranjith and Venkat Prabhu.

The strongest story of the bunch is Pa Ranjith’s Dhammam (Compassion) in which a Dalit farmer Guna (Guru Somasundaram) and his young daughter Kema are literally forced to go up against the upper-class landowners after a horrible accident injures a young man.

The short film, beautifully shot by cinematographer Thamizh A Azhagan, captures the beauty of the land against the backdrop of an age-old imbalance of casteism. The bird’s eye shots of the lush green fields show how microscopic this conflict is in the larger scheme of things.

There is a poignant exchange between father and daughter in the beginning about how they each view their place in this world. Ranjith’s Dhamman also wonderfully points out the futility of violence and revenge.

The injured man’s family is so hell-bent on ‘avenging’ against Guna that they forget to tend to him. It eventually falls on Kema and Guna to see some sense into them. The ending also takes forward the title.

Chimbu Deven’s fanciful Kottai Pakku Vathalum, Mottai Maadi Sitharum (Betel Nuts and Terrace Seer) involves the legend of a 400-year-old seer, played by Nasser, who appears every 50 years or so to enlighten those who need him the most. Set in the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, the magazine sub-editor played by Kanda (Thambi Ramaiah) is desperate to land an interview with him to save his job.

Kanda follows the ancients steps to summon him and gain the once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the two embark on a clever and amusing conversation on life and its vast mysteries, both mundane and meaningful. The short is played more for laughs as Kanda bumbles his way through the interview, while Nasser’s seer holds the upper hand.

Kottai Pakku Vathalum, Mottai Maadi Sitharum also presents several alternate endings to this inventive tale, allowing the viewer to imagine outcomes for these what-if scenarios. This could either be a hit or a miss with audiences, depending on how open they are for whimsical stories.

Venkat Prabhu’s Confession brings Amala Paul’s Anjana in the cross-hairs of a determined sniper played by Prasanna. The working professional returns home to her swanky high-rise flat to unwind after a long day. We soon discover that she is hiding several secrets, both in her professional and private domains.

The story by Manivannan Balasubramaniam definitely holds promise, but writer-director Prabhu seems to linger on Anjana’s many ‘faulty’ qualities, while ignoring those of her men in her life. Prasanna’s skills as hitman also seem a bit far-fetched.  

The final story, and one least convincing, is Rajesh M’s Mirrage featuring Priya Bavani Shankar and Natraj. Priya plays an IT professional, Pavithra, arriving in Chennai for a work presentation and residing in a heritage villa maintained by Natraj’s Maddaswamy.

With jump scares and eerie night-time atmosphere, Mirrage sets the mood for a haunted house atmosphere. Except nothing about the tale is believable; you know the other shoe is about to drop, and when it does, there is no surprise.

Rajesh M’s segment also uses the larger scope of mental health as a plot point, which just feels out of place in 2022.

While the Tamil anthology seeks to divert its worldview on who we would like to imagine as the ‘victim’, the overall impact of the film is unsatisfying. Perhaps more development on the stories and its length would have improved it overall.

Victim – Who Is Next? Is now streaming on SonyLIV.


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