Arun Matheswaran’s 2024 action-drama film, Captain Miller, is an epic adventure drama that is centered around an ex-military turned dacoit, Analeesan “Eesa” Miller, who operated during the British Raj in India during the 1930s. The Dhanush starrer film is the first part of the ambitious trilogy, where the lead actor has given a praiseworthy performance. It is worth mentioning that the grandeur of “Miller” makes it worth a watch.
As a young man, Eesa was disturbed to see the people of his tribe being mistreated by the royal family. They were not allowed to enter the temple, and they were brutally killed if they ever dared to. The villagers of Mathalamparai worshipped the Koranar deity. According to a 600-year-old myth, it is believed that their ancestors offered their land to the king to build a Shiva temple. It was while digging for the temple that a precious gemstone was discovered, and the news started to spread far and wide. Wars were started to steal the gemstone during the twenty years that it took to build the temple. Their ancestor, Koranar, saved the king, the villagers, and the land by single-handedly fighting away the enemies, and he sacrificed his life for the cause. The king was indebted to Koranar, and he gifted the temple and the land to the people of the tribe. The villagers carved out Koranar’s figurine using the gemstone, and it was believed to be still hidden somewhere within the kingdom.
Why did Eesa turn into a dacoit?
Eesa was determined to join the British army because he believed it was the only way to earn respect. The caste-based violence carried out by the royal family convinced him to join the army. He believed that he would be treated as an equal once he became an army man, though he soon realized that one had to pay a price to become a British soldier. Eesa’s brother, Sengolan, a revolutionary, tried to stop his brother from joining hands with the enemy, but Eesa refused to listen. Eesa was hopeful when he joined the army, and he felt a sense of pride when he wore the uniform after the completion of his training. He was assigned the name ‘Miller’, and he liked the ring to his name. He added that one day, he would be known as Captain Miller, and he stared at his reflection in the mirror with pride.
On their first assignment, Miller and his team were instructed to shoot down the freedom fighters who had gathered for a protest demonstration. While the rest of the troupe fired one round after another, Miller and Rafiq struggled to pull the trigger. Miller had no choice but to follow the instructions, and he regretted his decision to join the army. Miller’s friend, Sembatta, shot himself dead out of guilt. When the general hurled an insult, Miller felt an immense rage, and he stabbed the general dead. He fled from the scene that night, and he started to live in solitude after being denied entry into his village. It was believed that Sengolan was among the 300 freedom fighters Miller shot, and the villagers refused to accept him for his sin. Miller came across a gang of dacoits when rangers caught them during a heist at the Twin Mountains. He helped Kannaya and his gang kill the rangers, and they decided that Miller would be a great addition to their team. Miller joined the dacoit gang, and it turned out to be his way of seeking revenge on the Britishers. The gang closely worked with the revolutionaries and provided them with assistance.
How did Miller pay back his debt to Velmathi?
When Eesa and his friend entered the temple pretending to be workers to catch a glimpse of the princess, the prince ordered his guards to catch them. Velmathi helped Eesa and his friend escape from the temple, and he was surprised when she held his hand to guide him to the exit door. He did not expect a member of the royal family, who considered the villagers untouchable, to break all norms and help him.
Upon inquiring, Eesa found out that Velmathi was the niece of King Rajadhipathi. When she was a child, the king killed her parents, and they took care of her ever since. Velmathi and the king’s daughter, Princess Shakunthala, were great friends, and it was only because of her that the king had not killed Velmathi yet. When Rajadhipathi learned that his niece was planning on eloping, he realized it was time to get rid of her, and Shankunthala was instructed to head back to Madras. Eesa fought the king’s soldiers to help Velmathi escape with her lover, a freedom fighter, though he did not know about her plan. The next time Eesa met Velmathi was when he was shot during a heist. She had joined the freedom movement and was living at a nearby camp. Velmathi treated his wounds, but she did not recognize him. She was disgusted to find out that the man she treated was partly responsible for the death of her husband, who was one of the three hundred people who had gathered at a non-violent protest. Velmathi was clear that the only way Eesa could relieve her pain was by killing the governor’s son, Riley.
Riley was informed by one of the king’s trusted men, Kanagasabai, about the hidden gemstone figurine. He believed that the gemstone belonged to the crown, and Rajadhipathi had no choice but to hand it over to Riley. Rajadhipathi was aware of the brutal killings conducted by Eesa and his gang, and he decided to appoint them to get back the gemstone. He made false promises to the villagers to convince Eesa to come to his rescue. The prince had a word with Eesa, and he agreed to get the gemstone in return for a hefty sum of money. Eesa knew that he could never trust the king, and so after killing Riley, he ran away with the gemstone. Miller’s aim was to shoot Riley dead to repay his debt to Velmathi. He believed that the gemstone belonged to his ancestors, and his people had more rights over it than the royal family.
How did Miller save the village?
Miller made one too many enemies after killing the governor’s son. The British army was after him, and they tortured the people of the village to gather information. Seeing the suffering of the villagers, Kannaya decided to confess the truth to the British general. He admitted that Miller would be traveling to Ceylon via Dhanushkodi. And the information was relayed to the British army there. Miller soon found out from fellow dacoits that Kannaya had requested guns and ammunition and that his village was in danger. Miller decided to fight his enemies instead of running away to Ceylon. Miller wreaked havoc when he returned to his village the next morning. The Dacoits united to fight the British army, and they were successful in scaring off the general and his men. The threat was not over; the general was expected to bring hundreds of men to fight for his lost ego. Miller had to come up with a plan to keep the villagers safe, and he waited for the British army’s next move.
What happened to Sengolan?
The temple seemed to be the only option for the villagers to hide, but the royal family refused to open their doors to the common people. Velmathi knew a secret entryway into the temple, and she guided Thaenu to clear the escape route for the villagers to access. Miller distracted the king’s army by creating a threat outside the front entrance of the temple. A noise coming from the back entrance alerted Rajadhipathi, but it was too late by the time he and his men attempted to stop Velmathi and her associates. Before killing the king, Velmathi declared that she was not taking revenge for her father’s passing but rather that she was killing him for the betterment of the village. The cunning prince was determined to kill Miller, but his plan did not work, and he watched his worst nightmare unfold before his eyes—the villagers finally entered the temple after six hundred years of injustice. The prince cried in anguish, and Miller finally shot him dead.
During Captain Miller‘s ending, the British General returned with hundreds of men and countless ammunition to destroy Miller and the revolutionaries. Miller had laid a trap for the British army, and it initially helped him have an upper hand. Gradually, however, the situation started to slip out of his control, and that was when his old mate from the army, Captain Rafiq, came to his rescue. He turned against the British army and assisted Miller in fighting them off. The Britishers soon turned their attention to the helpless villagers in the temple and started to fire at them.
The twist in Captain Miller was revealed when Sengolan came to rescue the villagers. As it turned out, Sengolan did not die at the non-violent protest demonstration. He survived and lived in hiding as a dacoit to continue providing support to the freedom movement. When he was informed the Mathalamparai village was in danger, he arrived to save them, riding on horseback. Miller, Sengolan, and Captain Rafiq, together, turned out to be forces impossible to destroy. After killing the general and driving off the army from the village, Miller knew that the trouble was not gone and that more army men would be sent to kill him and the villagers.
Captain Miller ends with Miller finally revealing the gemstone that the villagers had heard of from their ancestors. After six hundred years, the villagers of Mathalamparai saw before their eyes the idol of their deity, Koranar. They believed that Koranar had once again returned to Mathalamparai in the form of Miller to save them from the atrocities of the royal family and the Britishers. While Miller was held as a messiah, the ending of Captain Miller suggests that Princess Shakunthala will return from Madras and seek to avenge the deaths of her family and claim back the temple. Even though Shakunthala and Velmathi used to be the best of friends, in the second part, we can expect them to stand against each other and fight for their respective beliefs. She might as well seek help from the British army, who are equally determined to kill Miller and his followers. The second part will be another blood bath, and hopefully, our hero will be victorious.