This thought-provoking and socially relevant drama depicts the rampant corruption and bribery that seems to be the norm in the functioning of the government machinery in India. It highlights the dreadful consequences that can happen as a consequence, through a tale told along parallel lines, that finally comes together in an explosive conclusion.
One part of the tale follows Chandra Bose alias Chandru (Kamal Haasan), a small-time broker outside the RTO (Regional Transport Office) who gets people to high positions by accepting bribes. He is supported in this work by Subbiah (Goundamani). Paneerselvam (Senthil) plays an officer in the RTO who has conflicts with Subbiah. Aishwarya (Manisha Koirala) and Chandru are in love with each other.
Sapna (Urmila Matondkar) is the daughter of Gandhikrishna, an officer in RTO. Her father promises to get Chandru a job of being a brake inspector in the RTO, if he runs errands for them. He agrees to work for them, and soon he becomes a brake inspector.
The other track is of Senapathy alias Indian (Kamal Haasan), a 70-year-old man who kills top government officials (like Commissioners of Corporation etc.) in an extreme attempt to weed out corruption from Indian soil. Senapathy is also Chandru's father. Krishnaswamy (Nedumudi Venu) is an intelligence IPS officer out to nab the Indian. He manages to somehow 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. Senapathis wife Amirthavalli (Sukanya) is asked what Senapathy did to deserve a freedom fighter tag, and at this point, we are taken to the 1940s. Rebellions against the British, atrocities etc. are shown, culminating in Senapathy marrying Sukanya but leaving for Singapore to join Subhas Chandra Bose as 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 varmam 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 meets with an accident, killing 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 he killed his son in, exploded.
The epilogue shows Senapathy calling Krishnaswamy from a foreign land (Hong Kong), indicating that he will be back should the need for him arise.
Did you know?
Graphic designer Venky noted in 1997 that the film was his most difficult project to date, with a scene constructed to feature Kamal Haasan's character alongside freedom fighter, Subhas Chandra Bose. Venky had to remove blemishes on the film reel of Bose provided by the Film Division's archive before merging Kamal Haasan on to the shot to make it appear that the pair were marching in tandem. Read More