BR Ambedkar in one of his addresse
s to the assembly had said that as long as one doesn’t achieve social liberty, the freedom provided by the law is of no use to anyone. It’s been ages to the day, has much changed? Are we better humans? Did the powerful stop oppressing the have nots? The answer is a big NO. Titled most appropriately, Jai Bhim starring Suriya addresses all of this and more while telling us the story of a hero we should actually know about.

Before going any further, I would suggest you to read a bit about Justice Chandru, on whom Suriya’s character is based on. The man is a living example of how one must practice their voice and what it takes to make it hear louder and clearer. Written by T.J Gnanavel, the best thing about Jai Bhim is that it doesn’t make its leading man a Messiah. He does not have the saviour complex. There is a sense of fear in him too, but he lets his confidence overcome it.

For that matter, Jai Bhim has no hero but villains in huge numbers. The screenplay is written in a way that you see normal people face the evils of the system and either coming out of it by paying a price or dead. The first frame has police officers literally segregating the ‘untouchables’ from the people with a higher caste. Criminals are asked which caste they belong to. The first blow to my privileged conscience was the fact how the marginalised were considered pests and the oppressors thought eradicating them was their job. And this happened for real.

To make you realise the enormity of pain that Irulas went through in the 90s and still continue to in many parts, he doesn’t rush to introduce his big hero. Rather he gives ample time to the real characters who are suffering the pain. You see a happy couple being destroyed by the men in power for a crime they never did. Women are molested like it doesn’t matter, men are killed as if rodent, and Irulas are subjected to all of this because their mistake is they were born in that community.

The screenplay takes shape from a happy life to the tragedy and finally the struggle to find dignity and empathy in a place that lacks both. If this one doesn’t shatter you, what will?

Jai Bhim Movie Review: Star Performance

It could be Suriya overshadowing all the posters and he must to make this gem of a film reach far and wide, but the real hero of this movie is Lijo Mol Jose. Lijo plays a pregnant woman who is looking for her husband while her first born girl is by her side. She is naive to know this world, but the system that preys on her even before they have their hands on the main accused, makes her what she never wanted to be in the first place. Of course she isn’t Mardani strong, but she is strong enough to not let the men break her spirit. Lijo’s art in these 164 minutes is worth every appreciation that comes her way.

Manikandan who plays Rajakannu is another heartbreaking performance. He is at no fault, but he pays the price for being from a particular community. Manikandan manages to bring the baggage of his existence on his back and it is visible. The only dream he shares with Sengani is building a house of bricks. My heart sunk when she walked into one, but not with him.

Suriya deserves to be given an award just for the projects he is choosing to back. First Soorarai Pottru and now Jai Bhim. He has somehow managed to keep his superstar image aside and blends into his surrounding completely. Chandru is a character with a lot of responsibility. The writers even write him carefully, not giving him much of a back story. But a bit of it was required.