Indian is a 1996 Indian Tamil vigilante film film directed by Shankar and produced by A. M. Rathnam. The film stars Kamal Haasan in dual roles with Manisha Koirala, Urmila Matondkar, Sukanya and Goundamani appearing in other pivotal roles. The film’s score and soundtrack are composed by A. R. Rahman, while cinematography was handled by Jeeva.
The film focuses on an ex-freedom fighter turned vigilante bent on rooting out corruption and his son, who is at the other end of the spectrum by facilitating corrupt practices leading to unfortunate events.
The film opened to positive reviews from critics on the way to becoming a commercial blockbuster in the Tamil film industry. Indian was selected by India as its entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards in 1996, but was not nominated. The film also went on to win three National Film Awards including that of Best Actor for Kamal Haasan’s portrayal, while his performance also saw him win at the Filmfare Awards and the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards. The film was dubbed and released in Hindi as Hindustani with a few scenes reshot and also in Telugu as Bharatheeyudu. It was also the highest grossing Tamil film upon its release, until surpassed by Padayappa, three years later.
A cat and mouse game ensues between Senapathy (Kamal Haasan), referring to himself as Indian, a 70-year-old vigilante, who is on a killing spree of corrupt bureaucrats and Krishnaswamy (Nedumudi Venu) a CBI officer is hell bent on tracking down Indian.
Chandra Bose aka Chandru (Kamal Haasan),(whom we later on find out to be Senapathy’s son) is a small-time bribe-broker stationed outside a Regional Transport Office, who aids people in greasing the right officials inside the RTO for getting permits and licenses. His assistant Subbiah (Goundamani) and Paneerselvam (Senthil), a RTO official, are engaged regular tiffs while Aishwarya (Manisha Koirala), Chandru’s love interest and an avid animal rights activist also battle it out with Sapna (Urmila Matondkar), the daughter of a RTO official Chandru is trying to hobnob to secure a job for himself at the RTO. Aishwarya is irked by the fact that Sapna (as well her mom) is exploiting Chandru’s situation and gets him to do grocery shopping and even the laundry.
Meanwhile, Krishnaswamy manages to trace his way to Senapathy’s house and finds Senapathy, posing as an ex-freedom fighter. Archived newspaper reports say that Senapathy was a soldier in the Indian National Army who was an extremist. Senapathi’s wife Amirthavalli (Sukanya) details the story on their struggles during pre-independence India, the discrimantion by British officials and the Indian Freedom Movement Rebellions against the British, atrocities etc. are shown, culminating in Senapathy marrying Amirthavalli but leaving for Singapore to join Subhas Chandra Bose to be part of the INA. He returns after independence. Krishnaswamy tries to arrest Senapathy, but his attempt is foiled, and Senapathy escapes with his expertise in the art of hitting marmam or pressure points.
Senapathy then goes on to commit a murder in front of television audiences by killing a corrupt doctor (Nizhalgal Ravi) who refused to attend immediately to Senapathy’s daughter (Kasthuri), who was suffering from third degree burns because he insisted on a bribe, which Senapathy refused. Chandru parts ways with his father because of his excessive insistence on honesty etc. and considers these values to be dead and worthless. How Senapathi evades the police and escapes arrest forms a major portion of the remaining part of the story. Public support is very high for the Indian because he exposes so many corrupt people. Senapathy does not do his son any favours either. Chandru had earlier taken a bribe and given a safety certificate to a bus with faulty brakes. The bus has an accident, killing forty school children it was carrying and thus Chandru is held responsible. Senapathy is bent on giving Chandru the same punishment as he gives others, i.e.death. After a few chase sequences, in the climax sequence in an airport Senapathy kills Chandru and apparently dies in an explosion. Krishnaswamy discovers through a video that Senapathi escaped moments before the jeep is exploded killing his son in the explosion.
The epilogue shows Senapathy calling Krishnaswamy from a foreign land (Hong Kong), indicating that he will be back should the need for him arise.
Directed by S. Shankar
Produced by A. M. Rathnam & Jhamu Sughand
Written by Sujatha (Dialogue)
Screenplay by S. Shankar
Story by S. Shankar
Starring Kamal Haasan, Manisha Koirala, Urmila Matondkar, Sukanya
Music by A. R. Rahman
Edited by B. Lenin & V. T. Vijayan
Production Sri Surya Movies
Distributed by Sri Surya Movies
Release dates 9 May 1996
Running time 185 minutes
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