Wolf and Lamb (Tamil, 2013)
When a film maker, who loves to experiment, produces a film under his own banner, one might probably expect less. If he happens to play the pivotal role in the film as well, you might have lot of preconceived opinions over the quality and content of the film. Here is a man of a rare breed, who has broken all our misconceptions and stereotypes, giving his dreams the whole sky to flutter, presenting us a gritty thriller that spells one of the most original thinking in recent times in Tamil. The director is Mysskin and his debut home production ‘Onayum Aatukuttiyum’ is the offer. This work reveals the true thirst of a film maker who has rare courage to present a work of art from his soul, without even worrying much about its commercial success in his maiden home production venture. Kudos.
The Tamil audience- perhaps the Indian audiences, if the film is lucky enough to meet their eyes- have rarely experienced such a dense metaphorical tale. The film investigates the collective societal psyche and sends a strong commentary of the same in many places of the narration. Here is a multilayered movie that braces itself amid the long line up of no-brainer pop corn comedies that keep bombarding the Tamil screen almost every week end.
The film, through the story of the redemption of a paid killer dissects the modern society and shows up the obnoxious other side of it, filled heavily with grey, which many of us don’t wish to look at for it grips us either with guilt or leaves us with a sense of helplessness.
The whole police team is after a notorious paid killer ‘Wolf’ (Mysskin) who had worked for Thamba, his boss who hatches revenge on him, for he had refused to work for him. The film opens with a man walking clumsily on a deserted bridge at night, shown through the maker’s favourite top angle shot, falls down but manages to stand up before collapsing on the road side. A tight close up of the spot where he fell is now drenched in a pool of blood letting the viewers understand he is shot.
The lack of humanity among people is shown through the reactions of the passersby on seeing the man battling for his life, a picture perfect contemporary commentary on the whole society’s outlooks. The rescue comes at last from a medical student Chandran (Sri). After trying his best tackling the irresponsible hospital staff and pilfering police in the outpost, he dares to treat the wounded man himself back in his house. Only after attempting to operate Chandran realizes his naiveness. His HOD comes for his rescue over the phone. The next morning to his shock the man vanishes without a trace. Later this invites the CBCID officers to Chandran’s home. Only then he learns that he had saved none other than Wolf the previous night. All hell breaks loose from then on. He has inadvertently opened the Pandora’s Box, and nothing comes out of it is inevitable.
Mysskin has yet again showcased his inexorable inclination towards the visual styles of masters of Eastern cinema. And there are no issues over it as the visual style is perfectly blended with the narration. The narration is clueless till the intermission making the flick a tight macabre thriller.
Director Mysskin can be experienced from frame one and the actor Mysskin equally wins your heart with his subtle performance. The Wolf mostly contemplates in deep silence, letting his mind work on his mission. The moment of revelation of the actual mission of the Wolf, presented excellently as a story narrated to the kid, which actually discloses the ‘before story’ of the Wolf and his relationship with the family, through a long shot comprising his lengthy monologue, is both an inventive narrative technique and a performance beyond perfection, both by Mysskin as a screen writer and as an actor alike.
Every character, even extras, is etched out with perfection and not one performer does injustice to his role. Sri who plays the professionally hyperactive medical student, emotes beautifully and has given a laudable performance. The moment where he witnesses the death of the trance gender, his facial expressions are beyond perfection and his histrionics in those sequences leaves the viewer mesmerized.
The background score by Maestro Ilayaraja speaks a language on its own, increasing the tempo of this gripping tale of man hunt. There are many moments that deepen the impact of the visuals through soulful music. As the movie is entirely shot in nights, the frames are predominantly filled with darkness but complemented perfectly with the amber tone of the street lights.
A paid killer who has lived a life in shadows, while gets a golden chance of redemption, is he allowed making himself straight? Someone somewhere in the society, out there hiding behind the veils of anonymity, milking out the badness of that killer to his welfare and to the fullest, never wishes the bad man to bow down to just. The authority too lashes its whip only on the middle man, the killer, while carefully protecting his boss under its wing. Is the society suffering in the hands of the criminals or the society hatches and compels an individual, wanting him to be a criminal all his life is a question that lingers in the mind as an after effect. The film would achieve its purpose if similar thoughts cross your mind while you walk out from the cinema hall shrouded in darkness.
Every characters psyche is metaphorically related to an animal and the maker leaves no chance to the viewers to misinterpret his thoughts, for he reveals all his characters abstract metaphorical relationships in the end credits.
The film in one way urges the spectator to rethink the modality of Crime and Punishment. The judicial systems of all nations insist that punishing the guilt should be nothing but a chance of repentance. Nonetheless our models of punishing the crime are always curious in cutting the branches leaving the roots of crime untouched. It is the arrow that our system is more concerned about and the archer is conveniently forgotten.
This is not just a comeback for Mysskin, but his resurrection. He treats us with a dark, gritty thriller. A thriller that not merely entertains but also compels us to think is not something that we usually come across and here is one to witness.