Karnan, just like Pariyerum Perumal, begins with an emotional high. If Karuppi's plight tugged at your heartstrings, Karnan's condition will leave you at the edge of your seats. It is from this high that Mari Selvaraj slowly begins to weave in the story of Bodiyankulam and its colourful inhabitants.
Dhanush as Karnan
Dhanush and Lal are the backbone of the film, and their relationship might remind the Paruthiveeran-Chevvazhai equation. Dhanush embodies the angry young man as Karnan and is always ready for a physical altercation. There is a lot of anger in his character, and Dhanush's credentials as an actor-star is established once again.
Karnan, just like Pariyerum Perumal, begins with an emotional high. If Karuppi's plight tugged at your heartstrings, Karnan’s condition will leave you at the edge of your seats. It is from this high that Mari slowly begins to weave in the story of Bodiyankulam and its colourful inhabitants.
While Karnan might seem to have an overdose of violence, it doesn't seem out of place considering the fight is not for petty issues. It is for basic rights. We understand Mari Selvaraj sees no merit in bringing roses to a gunfight.
The women of Karnan
Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli as Dhanush’s sister doesn’t think twice before slapping the living daylights out of her brother. We have the feisty Rajisha Vijayan, in her Tamil debut, being the pursuer in her relationship with Karnan. However, it is also a masterclass in how someone can pursue without stalking.
Gouri Kishan functions as the catalyst to get to the basic conflict of Karnan. They are all go-getters just like the other women of the village who exhibit a lot of spunk. Be it in voicing their opinions in the village panchayat to backing Karnan for standing up against the system, it is the women of Karnan who shoulder him till the end.
Length... an issue?
Yes, Mari Selvaraj takes his time to build up the world of Bodiyankulam, but I strongly believe it is okay because Karnan is not just about Dhanush, Lal, Rajisha Vijayan, Poo Ramu, Yogi Babu and other noticeable names. It is also about the bed-ridden paati, Gouri Kishan’s angry father, the young son who can’t see injustice, a horse, the pigs, the earthworms, the dogs, the cats, the trees, the thorny shrubs, a donkey, and even a few chickens. It is important that the time is taken to establish the structure that will have to stand tall against the systemic violence that happens to them.
Music and visuals
Santhosh Narayanan makes a case for why he is one of the most important music composers of our time. It is a stellar album, and the visual translation on screen makes the songs all the more special. Theni Eswar is as strong a support as the music is for Karnan.
Mari Selvaraj's political tool
Caste-based oppression has been the theme of both his films so far, and it is clear that Mari is definitely using his cinema as his political tool. He brilliantly establishes the dangers of our upholders of law and justice having caste pride. Through Karnan’s character, Mari poses questions that are already present in our society.
Basically, Karnan is a film where the actor and the star in Dhanush are as satisfied as the writer and director in Mari, and thanks to that, I was too.
Director: Mari Selvaraj
Cast: Dhanush, Rajisha Vijayan, Lal, Yogi Babu, Gouri Kishan and Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli
(This article originally appeared on cinemaexpress.com)