Movies

‘Walter’ movie review: Sibiraj’s cop outing is as emotionless as RoboCop

Shirin Kanchwala and Sathyaraj in ‘Walter’

Shirin Kanchwala and Sathyaraj in ‘Walter’  

Unlike a ‘Sethupathi’ which did better justice to the part-masala, part-cop universe, ‘Walter’ takes the genre too seriously — as if the director doused his screenplay in a liberal dose of starch and ironed it out, to keep its rigidity intact

It’s impossible to make a police story without succumbing to ‘cop’ tropes that have percolated Tamil cinema, traditionally. By now, you must be aware that writing a cop movie is an excuse to propel a hero’s image, milking his masculinity to the point where blood starts spilling out of the screen. That’s not a problem unless there’s some scope for the filmmaker to explore a police officer’s vulnerability. When I say vulnerability, please don’t mistake it for the Killing of a Sacred Character midway through the movie, just so that the hero feels ‘helpless’. These are age-old issues with Tamil cinema’s Cop Universe and have little relevance with Walter.

There has never been a more visibly awkward police officer than Sibi Sathyaraj’s Walter. The awkwardness isn’t restricted to his pursuit in making the character look caricaturish; he stands erect, adjusts his pants every time he walks into the screen, and looks wooden — for the most part, I was heavily distracted by Sibiraj’s bushy moustache which, admittedly, has more layers than the script. These aren’t character traits of Walter, but of an actor who seems like the only person taking efforts to be taken seriously, in a movie that is anything but serious.

Walter
  • Cast: Sibi Sathyaraj, Bava Chelladurai, Natty, Samuthirakani and Shirin Kanchwala
  • Director: U Anbu
  • Storyline: ASP Walter uncovers the mysterious case of missing babies, orchestrated by a minister

The director’s lacklustre attitude, in the way he perceives cop movies, is evident right through the initial stretches. The central conflict is between two characters: Eswara Moorthi (Bava Chelladurai, in a showy performance), a well-respected political leader, and Bala (Samuthirakani), both belonging to the same party.

Walter is nowhere in the picture until he’s commissioned by his commanding officer to kill Bala in an encounter. We know the politics behind killing Bala; a) he’s second-in-line to Eswara Moorthi and b) he protected his doctor-friend (Natty) from a culpable offence. But Walter doesn’t ask these questions. He simply executes orders, like a “hunting dog”. That’s how Walter is, in life. Like RoboCop. There’s no emotion, there’s no reaction. Anyway, a vital scene that would alter the lives of Walter and Co, is executed in the most basic fashion — too basic for the film medium and revolutionary for a TV soap.

Are we tracing the life of Walter or Eswara Moorthi, or Bala’s friend, or Eswara Moorth’s son-in-law? We are left scratching our heads — even harder, when an abysmal romantic track takes a full-blown shape. Every movie teaches you something; sometimes about life, sometimes about your existence. Here’s an interesting information I learned from Walter: there’s a rare blood group called Bombay Blood. By the end of the movie, one is bound to say: There will be blood.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 4:14:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/walter-movie-review-sibirajs-cop-outing-is-as-emotionless-as-robocop/article31060933.ece

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