Action films, especially those that focus on an honest police officer, are a favourite subject in Tamil film industry. Most of these films belong to the genre called mass masala which can only be found in Indian films. Mass masala refers to the highly commercialized version of an action film that more than often defy all laws of physics just so the fan favourite superstar can be able to shine on screen. “Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru” tries to be an honest account of a true story through a fictionalized hero while also catering to the mass masala audience to an extent.

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Early in the film, we see a robbery by a ruthless gang who mercilessly kills off everyone in a house, which lets the viewers know what to expect. Then the story shifts to 1999 where Theeran (Karthi) is undergoing his training to become Deputy Superintendent in the Police and he returns to his hometown where the film lingers for a romantic subplot.

Afterwards, Theeran is sent to Ponneri where he starts dealing with the dacoity case. On further investigation, Theeran finds similar cases where robbery and murders were done similarly and by fingerprint matching, it is confirmed to be the same gang. However, there is not another single clue to who they could be. The first occurrence of attacks was dated back to 1995. In 2003, Theeran forms a team along with Inspector Sathya and travels throughout India to find that the same gang has been doing this in different states of India. As the expenses for the investigation rise and because of the time it is taking, the department isn’t keen on the investigation until a Member of Legislation (MLA) and his family is murdered in one of the robberies. Then the investigation gets fully supported by the government but still, it would take years to find all the perpetrators.

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It is clear from the film that H. Vinoth has gone through extensive research on the Operation Bawaria Dacoity by Tamil Nadu Police. The history of the Bawariya clans is shown through animated sequences, keeping the mystery around them. Throughout history, the British rulers and later the Indian Government were hard on their clan, which resulted in making them into a brutal hunting clan.

For the most part, the film uses the impactful story to overcome its shortcomings. There are scenes which are smarter than usual Tamil cop films and it is especially pointed out in the film itself. For that same reason, the scenes for the mass, for example Theeran’s fight in the Rajasthani village, stand out for being too heroic and don’t go along with the rest of the film. Certain montages could have been shot and edited in a more impactful way, although they were good considering the industry.

The Bawariya gang is shown as a brutal, inhumane group of people and the robbery scenes are treated as in a horror film. Later in a scene where they plan an attack on a ghost village, the methods are clearly indicating the horror mood.

Theeran is a fictional character that has been inspired by real life police officers. Karthi does an impressive job as the glorified hero Theeran and most of the film is carried by his character. Although at times the heroism is a bit too stretched, to the point that one may think that it would have been better if the sole focus of the narrative wasn’t on a single character. Abhimanyu Singh has frightening intensity as Oma the Bawariya gang leader.

“Theeran Adhigaram Ondru” is a solid crime thriller which compromises a little for commercialization yet manages to be an impressive account of a brutal true story. As the title refers the film as Adhigaaram Ondru meaning Chapter One, there are chances of a sequel. But the Operation Bawariya story is finished here and since the character is fictional they can go on with a fictional story. Although, let us hope that it won’t turn out like the atrocious “Singam” trilogy starring Surya, elder brother of Karthi.

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