How Irumbu Thirai removes the curtain that hides a dark world
The Tamil film tries to stick to a principal argument - digitalisation may not be all too safe and sound.
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Neither can you hide, nor can you run. This is the slogan of the popular Tamil reality show Bigg Boss, spinoff of the Hindi version. Irumbu Thirai (literally translating to iron curtain) is a film that accurately juxtaposes this slogan with the digital world.
By amalgamating contemporary conceptions and controversies around Cambridge Analytica, UIDAI's Aadhaar, digital privacy, NaMO's Digital India, cyber surveillance, dark web, cyber stalking and cyber theft, the film aptly encapsulates the myriad methodologies of cyber-crime and succinctly presents it to the Tamil audience.
While the film is not free of hyperbolism, it does leave the viewer uneasy and uncomfortable with the modern growth of digital technology. It restrains and cautions the viewer against a callous and careless use of social networking and the internet.
By not indulging into too much unnecessary plot divergences, the film tries to stick to a principal argument — digitalisation may not be all too safe and sound. As a matter of fact, the film goes on to fittingly showcase the nightmares that it can entail. By highlighting the extent of finesse in the organisational network of cyber crime, it leaves the uninitiated to explore the concepts further.
With conceptual clarity and simplicity of portrayal, a viewer engages with the complex network of the cyber world and its nexus with real-world crime. In a welcome move, it does not hesitate to break the development and 'vikas' clichés surrounding Digital India and cashless economy for its hoaxes.
We live in a time and age where we are entirely surrounded, and coerced, into engaging with the digital space. Vide various platforms of social media, we share and actively stalk personal information, current location, travel plans and updates; pretty much living simultaneously online from minute to minute. Irumbu Thirai shows the viewer the ramifications of this social-media obsession and the naïve mistakes committed by the social media user, unbeknownst to them.
However, the story is not limited to this domain. From larger rackets of how information is sold in bulk at photocopy shops to seemingly innocent customer care calls and messages, the film attempts to strip bare an incredibly tremendous network, well-organised and even well insulated with anonymity.
This is not the first time the Tamil industry is engaging with cyber crime. Since the last few years, with splendid cinematography, Tamil cinema has vividly captured the perils of the digital world through films such as Thiruttu Payale 2 and Kanithan have touched upon the subject thematically. However, what makes Irumbu Thirai stand out is the conceptual clarity of the film and how such complex concepts are reduced and broken down in the presentation of the film. Save for the unnecessary climax trajectories and violence, Irumbu Thirai successfully shows us the Orwellian digital world we live in, engage in and deeply depend upon.