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‘Devarattam’ review: a violent film where the violence serves no purpose

It isn’t a coincidence that Devarattam released on May Day. After sitting through the film, one is bound to say, “Mayday, mayday.”

The first half hour of Devarattam largely traverses through the Kadaikutty Singam template – a huge family populated by akkas, mamas and kozhundanars. Gautham Karthik plays Vetri, the ‘Kadaikutty’ or the younger one among the lot. On the surface, Vetri’s character is interesting; he’s a lawyer who believes in vigilante justice — something like Anniyan. He is a rebel, who roams around in a t-shirt that has Che Guevara’s image.

Film: Devarattam
  • Cast: Gautham Karthik, Manjima Mohan, Vinodhini, Vijayan, Soori and Venkat
  • Director: Muthaiya
  • Storyline: A lawyer is forced to take up violence, to protect his family

The walls of his house are adorned with pictures of Nethaji, Ambedkar and communist leader Nallakannu. Vetri is the quintessential angry-young-man you’ll find in Shankar’s films. But Devarattam stays true to Hari’s universe — deafening music, fast cuts, men wearing lungis above their waist, and an annoying comedy track featuring Soori — than a Shankar’s. Vetri is smitten by Madhu (Manjima Mohan who struggles to stay relevant here), another lawyer, and falls for her. Their romance, thankfully, isn’t the story of Devarattam. It’s about another character. Vetri lives by a simple principle: “Mann-a thottavana kooda vittrulam…aana ponna thottavana pollakanum.” Which is why he takes up violence when a character gets sexually assaulted by a bunch of spoiled brats. Instead of seeking justice for the survivor, Vetri seeks blood, that leads him to the villain Ganesan (Vijayan).

Devarattam is yet another Tamil film that uses rape/sexual assault as a ploy to take the story forward. The film comes at a time when the disturbing Pollachi incident is still fresh in our minds. Brutality can be shown in two ways — by mere representation and glorifying it. The scenes involving a rape survivor are problematic and makes you wonder if filmmakers are running out of ideas. Of course, sensitivity is the least you’d expect in a potboiler, right? In fact, Devarattam is a violent film — it has graphic images. But the manner in which the violence is used comes across as superficial.

In the interval stretch, Vetri delivers one of the most intriguing dialogues written in recent times: “Inga Kannagi magan dhan irukanum…Kantha magan illa.” Are you a Kannagi’s son or Kantha’s? The answer will determine your liking to the film.

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