For almost the entirety of the first half, the film plays as a highly stylised regional film, with all the characters talking in Bengali and Hindi. There’s little of the unconvincing English-speaking employed in Slumdog Millionaire.
Darkness in many of these films isn’t just of the day; it’s of character itself. The disloyalty of Troy in Fences. The bloodlust of Tanner Howard in Hell or High Water. The violence—inner and outer—of Lee Chandler in Manchester by the Sea. The treacherous conformism of Kevin in Moonlight.
Remember that this was during a time when an onscreen rebuke addressed at Rajini’s character resulted in mobs thronging your house with vengeance in their hearts. Ask Vadivukkarasi about it.
I cannot think of another protagonist who has so little to say throughout a film. When he does talk though, his pain spills through lines so delicate that you want to wrap him up in a blanket and hide him somewhere, just so the world can’t hurt him any more.
Films like Hidden Figures promote the contributions of unsung heroes, as much as as they serve as timely reminders for us to consider the consequences of our actions, and more importantly, their cause.