Genre- Legal, crime, Drama
Language- Tamil, Hindi, Telugu
The movie follows a minority tribal community called Irulars who reside in the northern parts of Tamil Nadu and the discrimination they face in their day-to-day life.
The story starts in 1995 and it is common practice for the Cuddalore District Police Personnel to book the Irula people under false charges just to close the case and gain promotion in their career. In some cases, they go further and swap the actual culprits out with the innocent Irula people as they do not have influence in society.
Rajakannu is from the Irula tribe and he helps a rich man with political influence to remove a snake from a jewellery closet in his home. Soon after, the jewellery goes missing and the Police immediately suspect Rajakannu without conducting a proper investigation.
Despite Rajakannu’s pregnant wife Sengeni saying that he has taken up a job at the kiln in another place, she is dragged away to the police station for interrogation. The police also bring Rajakannu’s brothers and sister. They beat them up brutally and harass his sister.
Once Rajakannu is located, Sengeni is freed. Rajakannu is beaten up brutally and tortured in custody as the police ask him to own up to the crime that he didn’t commit. Sengeni is horrified to see the bleeding and tortured state of her husband and his brothers when she brings food for them the next day at the Police station. The last time Sengeni sees her battered husband is when he is dragged back into the lock-up before he could finish his food.
The next day they receive news from the Police that Rajakannu and his brothers escaped from custody and are missing. Sengeni suspects foul-play and with the help of teacher Mythra contacts Human Rights Lawyer Chandru who practises at the Madras High Court.
After hearing Sengeni out, Chandru notes that the Police report mentions many eyewitnesses seeing the 3 men fleeing. He gathers that the case is complicated and agrees to take on the case. What happens from there forms the rest of the story.
The movie portrays the plight of the tribal minority in a profound way. One develops an instant empathy with the Irulars. The custody torture, police brutality and exploitation of power is portrayed in a graphic and violent manner which leaves a deep impact on the viewers.
The caste discrimination is depicted vividly as the Irulars aren’t even treated as humans. The authorities take them for granted and throwing Irulars in prison is second nature to them.
Lawyer Chandru’s role is a heavy one and Suriya carries it well. Amidst a society where money and power can buy anything, Chandru is unyielding as he fights for human rights.
Lijomol Jose plays Sengeni and she has done a great job as the brooding wife looking for her husband.
Veteran actor Prakash Raj plays Perumalsamy (IG Police). His role makes one wonder how different the world would be if every civil servant based their actions on their conscience.
The movie addresses the clash between the Police department and the Lawyers as the former was known for being violent while extending their authority.
It also showcases how the society’s mindset is such that it is alright for the tribal people to be treated inhumanely as none of the offenders shows any remorse even at one point in the movie. It was intriguing to see how the authorities and Public Prosecutors don’t have even an ounce of conscience as they try to quash the case in exchange for money or a higher post despite knowing the truth.
Though the plot takes place in 1995, at the end of the movie it is mentioned that the tribal clans still face such atrocities even today, which is saddening.
Jai Bhim shows that though the law exists in the system, society needs brave and strong-willed Lawyers like Justice K.Chandru and righteous police officers like IG Perumalsamy to work hand in hand for justice to prevail!
The movie is released in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and can be viewed here Jai Bhim (Amazon Prime)
-By Soul Sword-