Taanakkaran film review: Vikram Prabhu’s crime film is a searing article on the abuse of power

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Indian cinema has seen a lot of crime dramas. We’ve seen fair cops, those who abuse power, and all different shades of a cop. But, Taanakkaran stands out from the lot only by its setting. In most commercial films, we see the hero become a policeman during a five-minute song. But what about the struggles and physical strains he goes through to become a cop? This is what Taanakkaran manages to show.

Arivazhagan AKA Arivu (Vikram Prabhu), along with 349 others, joins the Police Recruit School (PRS). Among the 350 are a group of people in their 40s who were unable to join the school in their 20s due to legal issues. These middle-aged men are expected to be as agile as the young ones. The school is under the control of Inspector Muthupandi (Madhusudhan Rao) and Eshwaramurthy (Lal). They torture the participants in the name of parade training. All they want is unquestionable discipline and people who obey orders without raising their voices. But Arivu defends itself and defends the people who suffer.

Taanakkaran is a refreshing and impactful film based on the flawed policing system. The PRS formation was established by the British and has been followed until today as a tradition. No one wonders why this practice should continue even today. The Tamil (Tamizh) director did a wonderful job of setting the story in PRS, an uncharted subject as far as crime dramas go.

The training program and the officers are ruthless. You feel sorry for the people who themselves go through the hellish practice so that they can lead a better life. People are fainting, dying and also being forced to commit suicide because of the injustice inflicted on them. In a sense, Taanakkaran also becomes torture porn after a while. You become numb seeing the torture inflicted upon them.

For the most part, Taanakkaran is a realistic depiction of people abusing power and the faulty system. There are a few flaws in the film. For example, we don’t see why Eshwaramurthy is so strict. 18 people die during PRS training. But no action was taken because the participants signed an agreement before joining the program. Also, the pointless romance track featuring Eswari (Anjali Nair) does not sit well with the proceedings.

Here is the Taanakkaran trailer:

Taanakkaran is full of marvelous performances and technical excellence. Vikram Prabhu delivered a remarkable performance as Arivu. There is conviction in his eyes when he stands up to his superiors. Likewise, Bose Venkat, Lal, MS Bhaskar, Pavel Navageethan and a trainee who played the role of Murugan enhanced the film with their nuanced performances.

Taanakkaaran is an engaging crime drama that is refreshing to watch.

3 out of 5 stars for Taanakkaran.

Taanakkaran is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

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