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"Kovilpatti Veeralakshmi"


IT IS irony at its height. Even as much hue and cry is being made about a film that is yet to be made, purely on the surmise that it would propagate sickle culture, comes Filmagik's "Kovilpatti Veeralakshmi" that glorifies gore like nobody's business.

Slitting throats by the dozen, gunning down the enemy in scores, knifing people for revenge or using hand-grenades to annihilate groups en masse — "Kovilpatti Veeralakshmi" is more like the South's answer to Shekhar Kapur's "Bandit Queen."

It is an out and out Simran film, and the actress has done justice to her role.

Deepa Venkat's voice helps enhance the impact. But why such a strident cry every time she rushes towards the enemy to make a kill? Simran's body language and expressions (particularly the penetrating eyes) make Veeralakshmi come alive.

Casteism is a curse for Veeralakshmi (Simran) and her ilk, who undergo unbearable torture on account of their being Dalits.

However this time it is not from the upper castes but from a brutally inhuman police force.

It is a village where the inspector of police is the feudal lord. He beats up the poor men and rapes their women — and the rest of his menials in the force enjoy the leftovers.

Subjugated to an unbearable extent, Veeralakshmi rises in revolt. She takes on the brutes, to the dismay and admiration of the men and women of her clan. The village deifies her but her oppressors are now on the prowl, out to wreak revenge.

"Kovilpatti Veeralakshmi" does have sentiment, romance, kinship and kindness. But at the end of it all you remember only the long, bloody battle.

K. Rajeshwar has taken care of the story, lyrics, screenplay, dialogue and direction.

The film maintains a good pace till the point where Simran is cowed down by the police. But the last few scenes are trying.

A thread of sincerity runs through the entire film. It is this genuineness that makes "... Veeralakshmi" different from the action flicks one is are used to.

The gang rape in which the young Dalit woman Chelli is mauled and mutilated by a whole group, from the police inspector to the handicapped man outside the hut, is too disconcerting for words. The starkness hits you so badly that one longs for subtlety. Thankfully "... Veeralakshmi" comes with an A certificate.

Sonu is Das, another harassed Dalit who escapes from the police and later marries Veeralakshmi. The actor does justice to a significant role.

Ashok Kumar's camera work is a commendable aspect of "Kovilpatti ... ". So is Rambo Rajkumar's stunt choreography.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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