Dhanush excels in this clichéd patriotic plot

Cast: Dhanush, Priyanka Mohan, Shivaraj Kumar, Sundeep Kishan and Niveditha Satish Direction: Arun Matheeswaran

Hyderabad: Tamil star Dhanush comes up with a splendid performance in a titular role in his latest film ‘Captain Miller’ but the clichéd story fails to pack a punch. His transformation from a caste-oppressed villager to a gun-toting Captain Miller is quite convincing but the patriotic tinge in the film couldn’t keep the audience glued to their seats and lengthy action episodes test audience nerves. He talks about freedom and caste discrimination in temples since it was set in the pre-Independence era but they look out-of-place for new generation viewers since it has been 70 years since India attained Independence and a lot of changes have come through. He also reminds us of revolutionary leader Periyar Ramasamy by wearing a black shirt and talking about suppression under the upper caste even after gaining freedom and suggests that ‘British rule' is safer in comparison to the downtrodden.

Probably, Dhanush wanted to try out something away from his usual boy-next-door roles like ‘Raghuvaran B Tech’ but he could disappoint Telugu viewers since his ‘fight’ against mighty Britishers lacks enough meat. He is bound to draw applause for his action avatar in the guise of patriotism. Still, falls short of high expectations. Kannada star Shivraj Kumar showcases traces of his acting brilliance in a couple of scenes, while actresses Priyanka Mohan and Nivedhitha are just okay.

In a nutshell, Captain Miller is the story of a villager-turned-guilt-ridden sepoy who revolts against the British Empire. When he is unable to take the oppression meted out by the king of his village, he joins the British army for respect. Instead of respect and honor, he is given guilt. When he realizes that he has made a pact with a bigger devil, he becomes a lone wolf, a traitor to his village, and a vigilante to the British army. Will he change his path and join his brother and freedom fighter (Shivraj Kumar) or will he wage his battle, check out in theatres?

Dhanush has done a social drama ‘Asuran’ showcasing the caste discrimination during the 1980s over land holdings between upper and lower-caste farmers. It rocked the box office since it was quite relatable and convincing. He again dabbles with the caste factor this time but it revolves around restrictions on entering temples but it has lesser reach and depth in comparison. He mouths a few punchlines and his heroic acts of holding guns and rocket launchers are well-packaged too. Priyanka Mohan has her moments in a good role, while Nivedhitha also has her share of moments. Shivaraj Kumar shines bright in a brief role.

Director Arun Matheswaran subtly and carefully puts forth the politics behind the gods of the natives and Hinduism. To weave such an intricate and explosive subject into an action-drama shows that his talent and even his writing are commendable.

However, ace Telugu director S S Rajamouli towers over him by handling the patriotism theme much better in the last film ‘RRR” where he balances heroism and friendship perfectly and relegates patriotism to a limited time capsule and won both critical as well as box office appreciation.

Rating: 2 Stars

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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