Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru

Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru (transl. Theeran Chapter One) or simply Theeran is a 2017 Indian Tamil-language action thriller film[1][2] written and directed by H. Vinoth and produced by S. R. Prakashbabu and S. R. Prabhu of Dream Warrior Pictures. Based on true events from the Operation Bawaria case, the film depicts the nefarious activity of dacoits and its eventual containment by Tamil Nadu police. The film stars Karthi and Rakul Preet Singh while Abhimanyu Singh plays a pivotal role. The film is released on 17 November 2017. Karthi received Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor – South and nominated Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil.

The film begins with a scene of a police station where Sasi, the police officer in charge, orders that the documented criminal cases in the form of manuscripts be converted into digital format. During this process, he comes across a really spine-chilling dacoity murder case from several years ago. After reading the case history, he calls up the police officer who had taken charge of the case, Theeran Thirumaran.

The story shifts to the year 1995, where Theeran is in his police training college undergoing training to be posted as DSP from TNPSC exams. He tops the training period. Simultaneously, in a house along the highway of Tamil Nadu, a group of dacoits wrecks the house by barging in, killing all the people inside gruesomely and taking the belongings.

Meanwhile, Theeran returns to his hometown of Tanjavur, falls in love with his new neighbor Sripriya aka Priya, and marries her. Later, Theeran becomes known in the police department for his ways of handling various cases, and he is later moved to Ponneri after a dacoital attack. Police Inspector Satya and Theeran both handle the case but lead nowhere with the case. Therefore, in 2003, Theeran, Sathya, and a group of other police officers go around India to see if they are able to identify the fingerprints of the dacoits. During this process, Theeran learns that these dacoits are actually tribe members of the left over cultural groups after the Indian Independence. They are eventually stopped by the carelessness of their superior officers, and the case is put on hold.

Later in 2003, the dacoits raid the house of the ruling party's MLA and kill him. The government is under heavy pressure from the public, and the Home Minister gives Theeran all powers and a full team to nab the dacoits. A year later, they find one fingerprint match in Uttar Pradesh prison and go to a lorry station to capture the dacoit. Learning that the lorry has left and it is heading to Ponneri, Theeran and the other officers rush to stop them. The dacoits raid Sathya's house and kill his wife, and also injure the pregnant Priya and put her in a coma.

Angered by this incident, Theeran, with the help of higher officials, puts together a team to capture the gang of dacoits leads by Oma. They camp in Rajasthan with the help of a local police officer. They come to know that the gang members except Oma are in their village, so they visit the village, only to be sent out by the villagers. While the case is going on, Theeran learns that Priya is critical. This fuels his anger, which makes him even more motivated to find Oma. The team learns that there is a way to bring Oma out from his village. So he captures the organizer of the gang and one of the gang members and puts them in police custody. Infuriated, Oma vows to kill Theeran and his team. Theeran gets information that Oma will be on a train which is infiltrated by the team, but Oma escapes to a nearby village. Theeran and his team walk to the village and reside there for the night. Oma's gang infiltrates the village, destroying it and killing Theeran's teammates. Finally, Theeran captures Oma, brings him to Tamil Nadu, and gets him a death sentence.

Now in 2017, it is revealed that Theeran has a boring, useless post in the Traffic Vigilance Department because he is straightforward and lives alone. Theeran is visited by Sathya, Sathya's daughter, and Sasi. Sasi salutes him. The movie ends with a note conveying: The film is dedicated to all the people in the police department who fought and arrested those dacoits, and we thank them for their bravery and courage. The officers involved in this case were not recognized by the government by providing any honorary awards, neither were they promoted to higher posts.

Following the success of his first film Sathuranga Vettai (2014), director H. Vinoth was keen to make a sequel to the film starring either Suriya or Ajith Kumar, but their reluctance meant that he moved on to work on a different project based on the Operation Bawaria case.[3] He stated that he had the idea of making a film on the case before he made Sathuranga Vettai but had forgotten about it until he opened a food parcel, which was coincidentally covered with a newspaper article narrating the events of the operation and the incident subsequently inspired him to work on the script.[4] In February 2016, he approached Karthi to play the lead role in the police drama film and was insistent that the final version carried the same "social responsibility angle" that the initial script had carried.[5] Karthi expressed his immediate interest in working on the film, and recalled that he had first heard about the case while he was working on the making of Siruthai (2011).[6] Vinoth continued to script the film throughout 2016, while Karthi finished his pending work for Kaashmora (2016) and Mani Ratnam's Kaatru Veliyidai (2017).[7] Titled Theeran Adhigaram Ondru, Rakul Preet Singh was signed to play the leading female role in the film. Bose Venkat was also selected to portray a police officer in the film, with the actor stating that the role gave him "a new dimension and a new identity".[8] Abhimanyu Singh was selected to portray the main antagonist, while Telugu actor Narra Srinivas made his debut in Tamil cinema by playing a police officer.[9][10] Sathyan Sooryan was selected to handle the cinematography for the film, while Dhilip Subbarayan and Kathir were signed to handle the stunt and art departments respectively. For Karthi's costumes in the film, the team actively chose to use organic cotton shirts after being recommended to by Karthi's mother, Lakshmi Sivakumar.[6] S. R. Prabhu's Dream Warrior Pictures agreed to produce the film, with the shoot announced to begin in January 2017.[11]

To prepare for his role, Karthi underwent police training at the YMCA Campus in Chennai before production began.[12] The film was shot in several cities across North India including Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bhuj, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.[13][14] Actress Scarlett Mellish Wilson shot for an item number in April 2017 at Jaisalmer Fort in Rajasthan, with the song being choreographed by Brindha.[15] As a result of the warm climate, several of the film's cast and crew fell sick during the making of the project.[16] To make the film as authentic as possible, Vinoth actively hired artistes from the regions and insisted on shooting in such locations, rather than replicating the terrains in Chennai or in studios.[17][18] Karthi, in an interview, described it as one of his most extensive action films, remarking the action sequences were not easy to execute.[19]

The film depicts Operation Bawaria, the investigation of a series of dacoity cases by the Tamil Nadu Police Department. The operation led to the gunning down of two members of a criminal gang belonging to the Bawariya tribe from Uttar Pradesh as well as further arrests in the 2000s. Armed dacoits had struck affluent houses along National Highways in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The operation against the criminals was officially launched in January 2005 soon after the murder of AIADMK MLA Sudarsanam from Gummidipoondi.[1][20] A special team led by the then Director General of Police S.R.Jangid, worked in coordination with the Uttar Pradesh Police and intelligence agencies to track down the wanted criminals — Oma Bawaria, Bsura Bawaria, and Vijay Bawaria among others. The teams worked for several weeks to put together information and camped in remote locations in Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab before gunning down Bsura Bawaria and Vijay Bawaria. The other prime suspects, Oma Bawaria, and K. Lakshman, alias Ashok Bawaria, were then arrested and brought to Tamil Nadu, where they were convicted and awarded the death penalty by a special court.[1]

The movie was made in close consultation with Jangid and the other officers involved in the operation.[1] Post-release of the film, Jangid appreciated the team for their realistic portrayal of events and praised the director's research for the film.[21][22]

Ghibran composed the soundtrack and background score of the film, and also wrote the lyrics for the song "Sevatha Pulla" along with Ranjith, who also sung the song, while Thamarai, Umadevi, Vivek and Soundararajan wrote the lyrics for the songs "Oru Veetil", "O Sathiye", "Theeran Da" and "Tinga Tinga". Udayakumar wrote the lyrics for the Hindi version of "Tinga Tinga". Director Raju Murugan too penned a song for the film titled "Laali Laali".

The film marks Ghibran's collaboration with Karthi and H. Vinoth for the first time. Aditya Music, one of the prominent music companies in South India, acquired the film's audio rights. Prior to the album release, the first single titled "Sevatha Pulla" was launched on 28 October 2017.[23] Ghibran in an interview said that "the film provided him the opportunity to score a full package after considerable time."[24] In early November, he uploaded a video in YouTube, about his musical journey of the film, with the singers, sharing their opinion about providing vocals for the songs in the film.[25]

The tracklist was released on 31 October 2017. Initially, the full audio album was scheduled to be released on 2 November 2017, at a grand audio launch event held at Sathyam Cinemas in Chennai.[26] But, the makers dropped the idea, due to heavy rains in the city, and instead planned for a soft launch with a formal press meet, with director Vinoth and Karthi.[27][28] The songs were released in all digital music streaming platforms the same day. The songs were featured in full in the album, but it was featured only partially in the film.

The album received positive reviews from critics. Writing for The Times of India, V Lakshmi stated that "The album is purely commercial, with elements of romance intact. Ghibran has stuck to a formula — throw in an item song, a pacy number and a few melodies — but his trick works, and what we have in hand is an album that predominantly has memorable tunes."[29] Firstpost reviewed "Ghibran gives a playlist filled with varied emotions and many subtle tracks rather than a music album of a typical entertainer. It will be interesting to watch how Karthi and Rakul bring to life to the romantic melodies of this album."[30] Behindwoods gave a rating of 2.75 out of 5 and stated that "A pleasant album that is easy on the ears, but lacks the extra punch!"[31] Indiaglitz rated 3 out of 5, and stated "Seductively distinct, Ghibran sways you with another hypnotic album."[32] Top10Cinema reviewed that "Ghibran surpasses his erstwhile albums with new dimensional music."[33] Moviecrow rated 3.5 out of 5 and stated that "Ghibran delivers an impressive soundtrack for a commercial entertainer, with melodies standing-out in the album."[34]

The film was released on 17 November 2017.[35] The Telugu dubbed version titled Khakee was simultaneously released.[36] The satellite rights were sold to Star Vijay. Amazon has acquired the digital rights.[37]

The movie received positive reviews from critics and became a blockbuster movie. The Times of India gave the film 3.5 stars out of 5 and wrote: "Right from the beginning, when we see cop Theeran Thirumaran (a splendid Karthi) looking back on a case that was the biggest challenge of his career (this indifferent framing device is one of the film's rare missteps), Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru grips us by the scruff of our necks and never lets go."[38] gave 3 out of 5 and wrote: "Karthi and Vinoth will make you wait for the sequel."[39] Baradwaj Rangan of Film Companion wrote "Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru is an intense film, but the intensity is less due to the screenplay and staging than the music and ferocious editing. As in most of our movies, the background score is too loud, but here, it actually helps."[40]

In 2019, Film Companion ranked Karthi's performance among 100 Greatest Performances of the decade.[41]