Tamil film industry’s latest badge of honour, a movie called Visaranai, is special not just because it is the first Tamil film to be featured in the Venice Film Festival’s competitive category, but also since it has roots in the experiences of a humble auto-driver who was tortured and maimed for no reason, and survived the brutality of the police to write about it.
The movie is based on a book written by ‘Auto’ Chandran. Lock Upnarrates Chandran’s experiences with police brutality in Guntur several years ago. Chandran claims that he and two of his friends were picked up by the police for no reason and tortured for several days and then let off.
“In this book Lock Up, I have tried to record my experiences as to what happened in that 8 X 10 feet room. I have tried to record what happens in every prison and police station and the kind of harassment meted out to known and unknown people. I was beaten up for 13 days. It is not a day-to-day basis but a minute-by-minute recording of what I was subjected to,” Chandran told the media before taking the flight to Venice to attend the film festival.
I was not educated.. I just started to write because I read a lot. After 26 years I wanted to record what happened in the lock up. This is the record of a vagabond.
The director of the movie, Vetri Maraan, says, “It has global relevance because of the police’s methods. I personally feel that there are good individuals in the police system. But very often the police system fails.”
It is such a big thing; despite being just an auto-rickshaw driver, Chandran learnt to study life in all its facets and achieve an ability to present it in lucid writing for all to understand.
—Su Panaiswamy, local resident to Hindustan Times