Among the themes chosen for Tamil films,police stories have always remained a talking point because it is one of the most interesting topics for discussion and representation, like romance and family sentiment.Moreover,most of the police stories have to centre around varieties of human crimes including those perpetuated by some of the bad elements with in the department itself. The nature of crimes and the suspense element contributing to the action segment of a movie automatically contribute to wider reception if the presentation is fresh with speed and tempo ruling the show. Owing to its inherent attributes,a film on a cop story can hardly deviate from the action genre and it has to be conservative in the choice of actors to play lead roles so that what happens on the screen is believed to be a realistic manifestation of events in life.
During the early days of Tamil Cinema police stories were less common because individual or group crimes were much less in a society that was striving to hold traditional values intact. Apart from family feuds and local rivalry,concerted moves on committing crimes for the sake of personal benefits were far too less.Besides, in the absence of advanced technology human brain's capacity for crime was also restricted.Perhaps that was why the film makers focused more on family stories rather than trying to present films on criminality,detective intricacies and vigorous law enforcement. It was the Modern Theatres' film production unit that seriously attempted at cop stories like 'Kaithi Kannaayiram' 'Valaavanukku Vallavan' and 'Vallavan Oruvan'.The advent of an action hero like MGR increased the scope for cop stories because Tamil Film industry came upon a physically able hero to don the role of a police officer that required a stout body and fighting credentials.MGR was an impressive police officer in films like Thai Sollai Thattathe, Deivathai En Kadamai and Kavalkaran. Of these except En Kadamai all the other movies were great hits and Kavalkaaran in particular became an exceptional police story because the suspense element was effectively preserved till the end.It included a lot of fiery stunt scenes including the initial boxing scene.MGR's 'Kavalkaran' became the first dynamic police story in Tamil.
As decades advanced, there were more number of cop stories one outshining the other. Following MGR,Jai Shankar was found the fittest hero to take on police uniform in a couple of Modern Thatres films and the Sathya Movie release 'Kannipen'.Sathya Movies came out with another brilliant but brief presentation of a police officer Alex Pandian played with style and sheen by the superstar and that memorable movie with a fine flash back was Moonru Mugam. Rajinikanth again appeared as a police officer in Balu Mahendra's Un Kannil Neervazhindal. Kamalahasan has got into the police uniform in his own unique style in films like 'Soora Samharam' 'VetriVizha', 'Kaaki Chattai' [another Sathya Movies Production ] and for a dare devil brief show in his home production film 'Aboorva Sagodharargal'.'Sattam' the other movie in which Kamal performed as a cop was more focused on friendship than on police activities. Later in the differently conceived police stories like 'Kuruthippunal' directed by P.C.Sriram and Gautham Menon's 'Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu' we saw Kamalahasan as an agent,witness and victim of new modes of torture exhibited as sequences of departmental enquiries on the one hand and terrorists' brutality on the other.The last two movies mentioned here, were overloaded with crude forms of violence perpetrated on individuals and society.These two high quality films with their prefixed standard of presentation definitely deserved consideration for awards, but were meant only for a selective audience and they can not be said to have created a mass appeal as the other conventional police stories like Vetrivizha and Kaakkichattai did.
Of the eight movies of Kamal listed here,'Kaaki Chattai' was extraordinary in theme because it literally showed for the first time a youngster's passion for the police uniform so as to achieve a distinct position in honestly eradicating crime.A similar passion for the police service was forcefully pictured by Dharani in his Dil,though the hero could achieve his aim only at the end of the movie. The other film Pokkiri showed the dignity and dedication of the police department with great energy and tempo but it brought the hero in police uniform only in the climax because the story line of the movie was the projection of a young police officer as a street rowdy so as to enable him to mix with the gangsters and eliminate them .The approach was fresh and the film became a blockbuster.
Sarathkumar is another hero who has frequently appeared as a chic and powerful cop and his strong well built physique makes it easier for him to impress in such roles. His role in 'Sooriyan' as a victimized police officer was a grand show and this film improved his image as an amazing action
hero .Following this he was shown as a smart police officer in films like 'Vedan','Gambeeram' and so on.Action king Arjun has performed smartly in cop stories like 'Pratab' 'Jaihind' 'Sengottai' 'Kurudhipunal' Otran' 'Marudhamalai' and a few other movies.This actor is specially known for the patriotic appeal he makes in films besides fighting the dons and criminals.Starting from MGR, all these heroes were perfect in form and spirit as police officers.
More than all the actors mentioned above,it is Vijayakanth who has made police stories as his special choice for a field show.He has periodically taken up the cop role as his pet character and contributed his might to the demonstration of authority as police officer with dynamism and majesty.Of the nearly fifteen films of Vijayakanth in this category, 'Pulan Visaranai', Vallarasu 'Managarakaval','Vanjinathan', 'HonestRaj' and 'Chatriyan' find a significant place in the archives of police roles played by Vijayakanth..The last in the list,a Manirathnam home production,excellently brought out the spirit of resilience in not losing the battle against criminality and injustice.The film categorically declared that every police man should be a warrior and even death should be scared of a brave policeman because there is no death for the relentless spirit of a warrior.The movie was a magnificent show of police might and mightily did Vijayakanth deliver his performance.Vijayakant's other fairly watchable movies in this category are Saatchi,Oomai Vizhigal,Nooravadhu Naal and Devan,though excepting the first film in this list,the other films had a cluster of stars like Mohan, Sathyaraj,Jaishankar and Arun Pandian.
Beyond the list of films discussed here,there is a special collection of four splendid police stories that we came across in different periods. What made the four films different from the others was a beautiful cluster of integrated segments like challenging situations,twists in narration,speed and force in dialogue delivery,solid emotional interlinks,clarity in presentation and above all, the roaring spirit of the police department as the legal watch dog. The first in the list is Sivajii Productions''Thanga Padhakkam'.Though Sivaji Ganesan had come in police uniform in films like 'Pudhiya Vaanam' and 'Vellai Roja',Thangapadhakkam stands as a monumental police story because of the grand emotional action sequences inseparably bound to the ethical fundamentals of the uniformed service. P.Vasu's 'Walter Vetrivel' the second in the list showed Sathyaraj as an IPS officer with ferocious grit and invincible control of his character.This tall hero both in height and performance played as powerful cop in a few other films like Kadamai Ganniyam Kattuppadu, Pudhiya Vaanam and Malabar Police. But 'Walter Vetrivel' was of a gripping type of narration filled with freshness at all levels of its presentation.Both Thangapathakkam and Walter Vetrivel kept the audience glued to the screen with the validity of happenings on a solid base of family sentiment,and the passion governing the attitude and behaviour of the two police personnel.The actors,Sivaji Ganesan as SP Chaudhry, Sathyaraj as Walter Vetrivel IPS,never let down their gusto at any stage of their of their performance of the characters that they lived with heart and soul.While SP Chaudhri had to fight a departmental and emotional battle against his own beloved son Jagan,for Vetrivel,it was his younger brother who happened to be the source of crimes in his law enforcement division.Neither Chaudhry nor Vetrivel vacillated ever in dispensing with their respective agents of crime.
'Saami' and 'Singam' the other two super cop stories from the same director [Hari],differed mainly in the characterization of the protagonists but the twists and sudden course of events appeared to be a similar governing factor of both the films.Rage and fire of fury dominated the narration of these two movies as in the other two. No doubt Vijayakanth's 'Vallarasu' also carried quite a few unexpected turn of events making the film eligible for a worthy watch. But in consistently maintaining speed and tempo and in mixing other relevant dynamics that made his two films meant for a family audience Hari seemed to score more than Maharajan,the director of Vallarasu.Both Samy and Duraisingam were presented as down to earth police officers with their focus on bringing the criminals to book more naturally than as a cinematic course of events.It was rejuvenating to see Vikram [Saamy] and Surya [Duraisingam] in police uniform. Vikram has done police stories in a few other movies ;but his role as Assistant Commissioner Saamy was more invigorating and arresting than the others.Similarly,Soorya as Duraisingam was full of force and ferocity than his earlier cop character in Gautham Menon's 'Kaakka Kaakka' which had an excessive demonstration of scary violence like Kamal's Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyadu ,another Gautham Menon show.The Himalayan victory of his two police stories made Hari come up with Singam ll but the lion roared next time, without the impact it created in part.l
A majority of the police stories mentioned here reflected not only the sacrificing temper of the police personnel but also some sort of tragic happenings in their lives involving the loss of lives of their wives or parents or children and at times their own death. However, the four special films spontaneously attracted the imagination of many people because they were an even blend of family emotion and fast action formula and struck the audience mood by a grand show of events as a natural follow up from beginning till the end.The entertainment factor was also taken care of in the interest of the larger section of the audience.Though all the films listed in this article carry their own merits as independently powerful police stories,'Thangapathakkam','Walter Vetrivel' 'Saamy' and 'Singam' have found an extraordinary place in the happy recall of my movie minutes.I am sure many will agree with me in my prioritization of these films as the best among the powerful police stories.