A Blog on Cinema

The Death of Vigilante Movies


In Kamal Hassan’s last Malayalam movie Chanakya, he played a wronged man who is out to get revenge on the Chief Minister. For this he used technology (microwave signals to scramble the CM’s speech) and a mimicry artiste (to overlay another speech in the CM’s voice). When it comes to vigilante movies, the ending is a foregone conclusion. We know there will be plot twists and surprises along the way, but still we go for the ride because of the characters, the script and to see if there is something refreshing in the movie. Chanakya provided that freshness and was well liked.

As we look at the trend among vigilante/revenge/seeking justice movies in Malayalam cinema, we don’t see much creativity there. If you take a look at those Shaji Kailas/Suresh Gopi movies, there is not much difference except for the name. Most of the cardboard characters are played by the same actors and the set of sequences are also the same. The only creativity is the hero’s designation — IPS officer, District Collector or CBI officer.

Once in a while a movie like For the People with MTV style presentation and peppy songs and gets attention. Then we fall back into the same rut. We wish our script writers looked at some successful vigilante movies and tried to learn something from them.

The story of Kill Bill is a one liner, but the way Quentin Tarantino visualized it made for interesting vieweing. Ghajini (inspired by Memento) also has a one line story, but the hero with a major handicap added excitement to the plot. In MT’s masterpiece, Oru Vadakkan Veera Gatha, Unniyarcha’s kids come for revenge only to find that the tale they have learned is incorrect. It is these various plot devices that makes an otherwise cliched genre still watchable.

Instead what we get is macho heroes walking in slow motion to Rajamani’s deafness inducing background noise indulging in shouting matches with their opponents as if it is a local political party meeting. Devoid of intelligence and plot devices, most of the stories flow like gutter water after a monsoon rain. It looks as if there we don’t have any masters of this genre.


  1. cannot agree more with VC..

    Nowadays, Malayalam Cinema is becoming a cliche itself.

  2. Rang De Basanti was a good vigilante movie. Raj Kumar Santoshi and Tamil director Shankar are experts in this genre. Santoshi’s Ghayal worked only because of th Sunny Deol’s characterization and Shankar’s Indian combined history and vigilantism in an interesting way. We seem to lack that kind of imagination.

  3. I think New Delhi(a loose adaptation of Irving Wallace’s Almighty) was the most briliant movie of this genre in Malayalam. And i remember that, with this movie,the careers of Joshi and Mammootty got rejuvenated.

  4. Chinthamani Kolakkase is an excellent example 🙂

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