Irandam Ulagaporin Kadaisi Gundu Movie Review: In Irandam Ulagaporin Kadaisi Gundu (IUKG), class and caste make for dangerous bedfellows and prove to be a double whammy for its protagonist, Selvam (Dinesh). He is a lorry driver who works at a scrap metal yard. The yard’s acerbic owner, Baasha (Marimuthu), has nothing but contempt for his workmen. He is the kind who will prefer his injured workmen are taken to a government hospital and not a private one. Selvam is contemplating leaving the place, and Baasha calling him a thief only increases his resolve, but for that, he needs money to buy the lorry that he drives.
Still that wouldn’t be enough for his lover, Chitra (Anandhi), a teacher. She keeps asking him to look for a different job than that of a driver, for which he retorts by saying that it isn’t inferior to any other job. But for Chitra’s casteist family, he’s just dirt that she shouldn’t associate with. And they wouldn’t even think twice about murdering her for bringing dishonour to the family.
It is in such circumstances that Selvam ends up transporting a load of scrap, in which happens to be an unexploded bomb that wasn’t properly disposed at the end of World War II. The local cop (Lijeesh) has been ordered to track this bomb down, with an arms dealer (John Vijay) overseeing this operation. “Either find it or denote it,” is the order laid out to them. And they have to do this before it ends up in the hands of Tanya (Riythvika), an anti-war activist, who wants to expose the Rs 2,000-crore scam behind the disposal of these bombs and ensure compensation for victims.
IUKG wears its heart on its sleeve. The way director Athiyan Athirai gives this story of an individual a global perspective is fascinating. In a way, it is a propaganda film disguised as a road movie. In a prologue, we see a metal scrap yard, just like the one that Selvam works in, getting demolished after an unexploded bomb blasts there. This scene also helps set a ticking-clock thriller vibe to this film once Selvam begins to transport the bomb.
And Athiyan gives us the backstory about the bombs — how greed ensured that they were carelessly disposed into the sea. The documentary-like footage only adds to the propaganda effect. But the film is proud to be one, for what it advocates is peace and empowerment. Athiyan also uses folk art and animation at later stages to drive home the point. While this approach might feel in your face in most films, here, they seem apt.
For, like its protagonist, this is a loud film, by design. The music (by Tenma) and sound design (Antony BJ Ruban) is loud and cacophonous, dominated by the sounds of metal and sirens. And visually, Athirai uses nimble camerawork (the cinematography is by Kishore Kumar) and rapid cuts (Selva RK is the editor) to make it even more unsettling
There are rough edges, too. The romantic track feels like another version of Pariyerum Perumal, another Pa Ranjith production. But how can a film from Ranjith not speak about caste? A stunt scene, where Selvam turns into a larger-than-life hero feels unnecessary and even out of place. After all, Selvam isn’t Dilli, the lorry driver protagonist of Kaithi.
Dinesh is solid as the somewhat short-tempered lorry driver who cannot help but protest against injustice. He still has a bit of the Cuckoo hangover in his eyes, but he makes up for it with his bulked-up physique and slightly raspy dialogue delivery, though the latter, also results in some lines flying over our heads because of the speed in which he speaks them. Anandhi gets a strong character, complete with a heroic moment, and the actress is adequate.
However, the film’s best arc is reserved for Munishkanth, who plays Puncture, Selvam’s co-worker. He starts off as a comic sidekick, a bootlicker who accompanies Selvam on the orders of Baasha, who promises to promote him as a driver if he finds proof of Selvam’s thievery. But gradually, this character wakes up to reality, and even helps Selvam and Tanya at great personal cost. And all through this transformation, Athiyan manages to retain the naivety that this character possesses. And Munishkanth beautifully plays this role, never making innocence of the character feel juvenile. You can’t help but laugh in a scene when he confidently says, “Namma naattu gundu nammala kolladhu.”