At the climax of this well-crafted commercial entertainer about a female cop taking on the political mafia, a villainous type makes the mistake of taunting our cop hero, “You may be a cop. But you are after all a woman”
Never underestimate the power of a woman in uniform. Having been injured in any number of potboilers in Bollywood and down south on unvanquished female cops from Vyjayashanthi in Karthavayam to Hema Malini in Andha Kanoon, it is refreshing to see a female cop in Vadham (available on MX Player) who is gutsy but also vulnerable. And for a change, our heroine in Vadham Shakti (Sruthi Hariharan) gets as good as she gives. Some gritty action scenes are staged. These will make you wince because Shakti gets quite a few blows.
Vadham would have been regular cops-and-gangsters potboilers were it not for the female heroes who infuse a kind of whistle-blowing grit to the narrative. Director Venkatesh Babu uses all the tropes of a cops film. He knows his sambhar-masala language well. The spicy ingredients are never over-dosed and I can’t remember when I watched through all the episodes not to see whether they would take us anywhere unexpected, but to see it take us exactly where we expect it to.
Vadham opens with a brutal murder. As Shakthi and her female colleagues in an all-women’s police station proceed to crack the case, they willy-nilly open up a huge pandora’s box of political misappropriation and misuse of power. It takes the viewer just minutes into the 5-hour series to realize that the director is not aiming at the raw-and-real female cops’ series like Soni or Criminal Justice.
This is a world of Hero Versus Villain played out at a loud ceetee-maroing decibel. Human figures came crashing towards the camera as our heroine and her girl-gang of three cops take on brute power with a kinetic relish
Besides the lovely Sruthi Hariharan ( with a face that reminded me of Kirti Kulhari) who plays the lead with conviction and commitment, her other colleagues are also well played by Ashwathy Ravikumar, K. Semmalar Annam, Haritha Badavagopi. These may not be major stars. But hell, they know how to kick ass!
And what a refreshing change to see Shakthi’s boyfriend Diwakar (Winner Ramachandran) being so supportive. My favourite sequence is the one where Diwakar’s mother invites a prospective bride and her parents home, and he tells them about his girlfriend and how he plans to spend the rest of his life with her.
As far as aspirational law-enforcement dramas go, Vadham takes the cake …and the kick. Don’t miss it. You can watch it in dubbed Hindi. But I recommend the original Tamil with subtitles.
Directed by Venkatesh Babu, Vadham gets 3 and a half stars.
Image Source: Instagram/sruthi_hariharan22, youtube/mxplayer
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