Arun Matheswaran’s sophomore film Saani Kaayidham is a straightforward revenge thriller in which a constable, along with her step-brother from an oppressed caste, go after the men from the dominant caste who not only raped her but also killed her family. But what really sets apart Arun’s film from a regular tale of revenge is in the way it treats violence with so much flair, almost making it a cathartic process that one doesn’t mind cherishing as a viewer. Even though this hard-hitting tale of vengeance does feel indulgent at times, it’s still a film that’s worth a lot of praise for its exquisite visuals and top-notch performances from Keerthy Suresh and Selvaraghavan. Also read: Saani Kaayidham trailer: Keerthy Suresh is a police constable-turned-murderer out on a journey of revenge. Watch
Keerthy Suresh plays Ponni, who works as a police constable. Her life revolves around her husband and daughter. One day, her husband gets insulted by his bosses (from the dominant caste) and he comes home drunk, swearing to never go back to work. But Ponni persuades him to go back to work and she explains that people like them don’t have much say. The husband returns to work the next day with the plan of offering an apology, but he gets insulted even more. This time a comment is made about Ponni, and he loses his cool and spits on the face of one of his bosses. The bosses can’t stand the humiliation and go on to rape Ponni and kill her husband and daughter. After being let down by the court and police, Ponni sets out on a journey of revenge with her step-brother Sangaiyyah (Selvaraghavan). The rest of the movie plays out like an Indianized version of Kill Bill.
When Ponni and Sangaiyyah decide to take matter in their own hands, Saani Kaayidham gets more violent by each minute. After a point, the violence feels like torture porn, and Arun Matheswaran doesn’t bat an eyelid when it comes to romanticizing violence. Ponni’s husband and daughter are burnt alive while sleeping in their hut. When Ponni decides to avenge their deaths, she also fantasizes about burning those responsible, and she talks in detail about how much she craves to see their skin burn and peel off. It’s a gory detail but Arun makes revenge feel so personal that you empathize with Ponni’s pain and loss when she talks about inflicting so much pain. There are scenes of acid being poured on genitals. People being run over by a van. It’s definitely not a film for the faint-hearted. The story is divided into chapters and the narration is beautifully aided by stunning visuals and Sam CS’s fitting score. Each frame feels like a breath of fresh air.
After delivering one of her career-best performances in Mahanati, Keerthy Suresh went on to sign so many films that most of her performances either went unnoticed or were never up to the mark until now. She stamps her mark as a performer in Saani Kaayidham, which definitely seems to have pushed her out of her comfort zone. Selvaraghavan, too, surprises with a very mature performance and often keeps the film alive from turning into a blood-soaked tale of vengeance. The brother-sister sentiment, the sub-plots involving children and caste-based discrimination are the aspects that add weightage to Saani Kaayidham, which otherwise feels very predictable most of the times.
Film: Saani Kaayidham
Director: Arun Matheswaran
Cast: Keerthy Suresh, Selvaraghavan, Kanna Ravi
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