Director : Balaji Shaktivel
Though India is the largest producer of films, only a few films really reflect its reality. In the midst of a highly commercialized industry, Balaji Shaktivel’s Tamil film Vazhakku En 18/9 is an exception in many ways.
Vazhakku En 18/9 is the movie about four youngsters from different backgrounds whose lives lie devastated by certain incidents. The movie starts with an investigation of a case by a police officer. Narrated with two different viewpoints of the case, the film helps us understand the contradictory nature of today’s society. A spendthrift rich man’s son, a poor platform worker, an upper middle class girl craving for the latest gadgets, an honest servant maid who helps find a lost ring; a talented street play artist without opportunities, a poor sex worker helping a person find a job while high-class sex workers helping in closing illegal deals; these are some of the contradicting characters in the film.
As the story moves on, the film tells us about how unethical use of modern technology have, for example, made women’s privacies vulnerable. The movie also highlights about the problems due to high interest rate in the micro finance industry and the plight of child laborers in the savories industry in North India. The movie helps us to understand how the nexus between law enforcement agencies and businessmen can affect the lives of many ordinary working people. The climax of the film is whether ordinary working people can stand up against powerful interests and is it possible for them to get any justice at all.
Unlike other commercial cinemas, all actors in this movie were new comers, with an exceptional performance by the street play artist – Chinnaswamy . The cinematography by Vijay Milton was another feat, as the entire movie was shot using a Canon EOS 7D digital still camera, but yet making it all appear very natural and real. Oscar award-winning documentary film “Smile Pinki” composer fame R Prasanna scored music for the movie.
This movie is definitely not the type of usual unimaginative commercial films which hit screens regularly. And at the same time, it is not an art type cinema genre with a limited audience appeal. In a sense, it is balance of both without losing its social message nor its appeal to the younger generation of cinema goers.