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Anti Indian Movie Review: Blue Sattai Maran’s debut is a scathing satire on men of religion, politic- Cinema express

Anti Indian Movie Review: A scathing satire that doesn’t take sides

Blue Sattai Maran's directorial debut is a satirical commentary on politicians, religion, and people, that, in taking on everything, leaves us wondering about its allegiance

Published: 09th December 2021
Anti Indian

Not just fortune, even Tamil audiences favour the bold. Irrespective of the content’s quality, anything fearless -- be it an intimate romantic scene or a bunch of expletive dialogues -- that a filmmaker manages to get on the final cut after censor is mostly met with praise. Hence, I am sure Anti Indian, the directorial debut of YouTuber 'Blue Sattai' Maran, will be hailed because being unabashedly bold is its USP. It revels in its crudeness and audacity at the cost of being schematic and oversimplified. There are no 'kuriyeedu' as everything is pretty straightforward and brazen - much like his reviews.

Director: Blue Sattai Maran

Cast: Jayaraj, Blue Sattai Maran, Radha Ravi, Aadukalam Naren, Muthuraman, Ghilli Maran, Vijay TV Bala

Anti Indian opens with a close-up of the face of Basha (Blue Sattai Maran). He has been murdered by unknown people for unknown reasons. The film or the characters don't bother much about finding the culprits. It is intentional and leaves us with a lot to ponder about. After a long delay, his brother-in-law Ezhumalai (Jayaraj), a local upcoming politician, gets the body for burial. If you wonder how ‘Ezhumalai’ is brother-in-law to ‘Basha’, it’s because the latter’s mother is born Hindu while his father is a Muslim. Due to the mixed religious identity of Basha, his body is neither accepted in a Muslim burial ground nor a Hindu crematory ground.

Parallelly, we see how the Chief Minister (Radha Ravi) and the police department are preparing for an upcoming by-election, which they are most likely to lose. While the opposition has the upper hand, superstar actor ‘Kabali’ can tilt the scale. So, the CM and the police have to come up with a plan to either win or stop the election altogether. The sequences involving the CM and the police officials create a sense of uneasiness because they discuss sinister plans with a matter-of-fact demeanor. As the issue of Basha’s body gets a bit of media attention, these men in power plan to use it for their benefit.

Since the massive Jallikattu protest of 2017, Tamil cinema has been increasingly toying with the idea of political conspiracy and police brutality. Yet, most of the films do so with a sense of caution. Even the recent blockbuster Maanaadu, which trods a similar route, was more about entertainment and less about the conflicts. That’s where Anti Indian distinguishes itself from the rest. This film doesn’t mince words. It is always on your face. Ezhumalai bears a saffron tilak on his head. His party leader is named Raja. However, it doesn’t take any side. It paints the Hindus, Muslims, Christians, media, police, and everyone in the film with the same brush. In a way, that turned out to be a concern as the voice of the director is unheard in the films as it is perennially making criticisms. Perhaps, the nameless, black-clad character (Ghilli Maran) is the voice of the director, who has no stake in the narrative other than taking digs at people. He wanders around asking problematic questions like the one he asks Ezhumalai: “How come all the leaders in your party are fair and the followers dark?” However, I wondered for all its boldness,  the film steered away from touching upon the caste issues. It cannot be a slip but a conscious decision for a filmmaker, who wants to make everything his target.

As far as Maran’s craft goes, the making is as straightforward as his ideas. With a limited budget, he has pulled off a decent film that seldom cares about nuances. There are no fancy shots or compositions that cry for attention. Aesthetically, Anti Indian might look inferior, but it compensates for it with content. All the film cares about is the story and I liked how it is mostly shown rather than told. There are expositions, but they are decently executed. I liked the idea of juxtaposing the impromptu gaana singing session at the funeral with police and politicians devising evil plans. It reminded me of Kaala’s climax - maybe it was supposed to. However, there are tonal inconsistencies. Predominantly, the film tries to be a satire, but at times, it becomes more sober and realistic. Yet, by the end of Anti Indian, I found myself thinking about the unprecedented boldness of the film more than anything else.

As a YouTuber, Maran is notorious for his brazen and impertinent take on films, directors, and actors. Now, as a filmmaker, he goes for the men of religion, politics, and power with the same unabashedness. Anti Indian is an important film that sets a new benchmark in freedom of expression in Tamil cinema irrespective of whether or not one agrees with the film’s tone and idea.

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