Set in the 90’s Karnan deals with the marginalized communities daily struggle for livelihood. Karnan lives in a village of few hundreds’ where there is no bus stop and people go to the next town to catch a bus. In the village being oppressed had become a habit. When oppression is the only constant, revolt can be the only change. Revolt- that’s the only option left when you push people too far. In a scene a person says why beat and make them angry instead let them come in front of us-stand with their hands folded, heads down. Making them ask for their rights.
In one scene during a military selection drill hundreds of men run to complete a distance in a stipulated time. Danush completes, but there are many others who are left behind. I have seen such selection processes. Men come from various parts and travel long distances. Some sell the last gram of gold they have, others sell the utensils of their house. Karnan tells the story of these women and men who are struggling to cross the line for a better tomorrow, but are unable to.
We live in a civilization were humans have been divided based on caste and creed. Discrimination in every strata of society is evident. Poverty is inherited from generation to generation. So many dreams shattered, died a slow death because opportunities were reserved for few. When someone tries to break free they are persecuted. Offense is taken if a peasant has a king’s name. ‘Who named you duryodhana?’ a police man asks a villager. In a way showing them their place in the scheme of things. For how long do you want to live like vermins- Danush asks the villagers’. Silence is resilience for the elders of the village. They have stopped fighting or probably never did, for mutiny will being bring the entire village on harms’ way.
In his second film mari selvarj chooses, compared to his first film- the all bets are off approach. Here tyranny is met with resistance. These are people living on the bylanes always pushed around never given much heed. This is in a way- a david Vs goliath tale. Goliath being our deep rooted prejudices.
If a guy who never gets what he wants had a face- it would be of Dhanush ( adukkalam, asuran, vada Chennai) The actor shelves his stardom to deliver a performance that will stay with you. When he explodes in a police station it is a sight to behold. The anger is palpable. Lal with his physical presence and strong baritone is credible. Karnan’s sister played by lakshi priya is well written and performed and stands tall with the danush character.
Karnan shows us the mirror. Shows us the sins of our fathers. The atrocities we commit to our own kind. The donkey that is chained, the cat that eats left overs, look at us with empathy, for we have let down our own.