Jai Bhim, as the name suggests, talks about justice, equality, liberty, and fraternity. When India adopted its constitution in 1950, she promised a democratic, socialist, and secular society where justice, equality, liberty and fraternity were secured for all. Did we fulfil that promise as a society?
Jai Bhim tries to find out the answers. Based on a true incident around 1995, which is almost 45 years after we adopted our constitution. It talks about how discrimination and inequality still have such strong roots in our society. It follows the people of the Irular tribe, who become the victims of police brutality. Senneni’s fight for justice by believing in the court, against all odds, is the main plot. Suriya plays the character of retired Justice K Chandru, an advocate then. K Chandru files a HABEAS CORPUS case to find the truth about Senneni’s missing husband. It is an act of bravery to bring such a true story to the screen. Appreciation to the makers for trying.
Let’s put aside the social relevance of this story and try to evaluate it on the basis of its cinematic expressions. First the good things: the performance of Lijomol Jose and K. Manikandan. They are very convincing in their portrayal of a tribal couple. Playing the role of Sennini, a pregnant woman whose husband is missing, Lijomol Jose makes you feel her suffering. She succeeded in getting sympathy for the character.
When dealing with such an important topic, Jai Bhim narrates the story in a simplified manner. Except for the tribal couple, other characters have nothing to offer. In terms of performance, it is a let down for Suriya after Soorarai Pottru. Prakash Raj has one or two scenes to shine. They used all the outdated tricks from the book to dramatise everything, and ended up creating single dimensional characters. Sometimes it feels very comedic, specifically in the court hearings, to see the defence advocates. Such ordinary writing and character development drowned the movie. Some symbolism and metaphors are not well integrated into the movie. Jai Bhim is an ordinary cinema which tries to tell a powerful story. We must appreciate their bravery, but Jai Bhim should be criticised for its cinematic language.
It is not worth the hype. Though it’s great to see that they’ve also released it in Hindi. The movie gets much appreciation from the Hindi audience, and it is very obvious that it is because they are not used to this type of cinema. But if we talk about Tamil, from Vetrimaaran’s Visaranai to Mari Selvaraj’s Karnan, there are many powerful movies made recently. Their visual language and cinematic expressions are very powerful. They also talk about discrimination, injustice, police brutality, etc. When Tamil cinema is evolving, Jai Bhim is two steps backward. It is very clever of the makers to name it Jai Bhim, otherwise half of its social messaging would have gone lost.
Jai Bhim can be a starter. But it can’t quench the hunger of a hungry cinemaholic. It’s great to call out caste discrimination, injustice, and police brutality, but does that guarantee a good cinema? We need to think again.