Spoilers Alert !
“Peranbu” released last Friday and has been getting rave reviews from all critics and public equally. It was also screened in various film festivals before the theatrical release and was hailed as one of the best films made from India. The film is directed by Ram, who is known to make non-commercial films which has an offbeat subject and largely dealing with some issues in the society. However, the fact is that all of his films have also been commercially viable because of the unique content and presentation.
“Perambu” is no different. Amudhavan (Megastar Mammootty) has been working as a driver in Dubai for around 11 years leaving his wife back in India to take care of their daughter Paapa (Thanga Meengal Sadhana), who is affected by Spastic Cerebral Palsy. Having burdened with the problems in bringing up their daughter and the ill treatment from the relatives and neighbours, Amudhavan’s wife abandon their daughter and elope with another guy. Amudhavan returns back to India and is forced to take care of his daughter without any support from his own folks or the society. To avoid the humiliation, he buys a house in a remote hill station and moves there along with his daughter. While Paapa initially rejects Amudhavan in her life, she later accepts him. He also gets a caretaker Viji (Anjali) to manage the house and take care of his daughter. While things almost fall in place, he gets tricked by a real estate mafia and is forced to give away his house. With meager savings in his hand and a teenage daughter entering her puberty to take care off, he shifts base to Chennai again. How he deals with the challenges in Chennai is explored in the second half.
Ram takes his time in unveiling this story frame by frame. We are taken directly into the world of Amudhavan right from the first shot. The movie is told as a flashback narrated by the protagonist himself comparing their experience with the nature and its impact on them. Amudhavan starts the conversation saying “If you know what I have been through, you will know what a blessed life you all are having”. Like you read a novel, Ram presents the film in 12 chapters each depicting a phase in the life of Amudhavan and his daughter. Each scene from there onward, grips you with the thought of “blessedness” in your life. The scenes where Ram has to show Paapa exploring her sexuality are presented so carefully. Even a slightest of aberration could have made it look vulgar. While you root for the characters and wish they come out of their difficulties, but deep inside, even as an audience, you know their fate. It’s such a difficult premise which Ram has handled so eloquently and presented in its full beauty.
We have to give it to the director to have cast Mammootty in the lead role for this film and we have to appreciate him for having accepted this film. We know Mammootty does take up some offbeat films in Malayalam, where he gets to perform and satisfy his urge as an actor (recently Varsham, Pathemari). But Amudhavan is way above all those characters played by him. It’s not an easy role to play as he needs to show his fear, uncertainty and worries inside him and at the same time be happy in front of his daughter. He excels in every frame and lives the role of Amudhavan. There are several scenes where he bursts in to tears and each one is a gem in itself. He is one actor who can beautifully express his emotions without even looking into the camera or uttering some dialogue, the scene where he visits his first wife is one such beauty.
Sadhana gives an unbelievable performance. It’s an unconventional and bold role and she does it so gracefully. Anjali (as Vijayalakshmi) and Anjali Ameer (as Meera, transgender from Malayalam Big Boss) play their parts well. The 2 big pillars of the film are Yuvan (Songs and BGM) and Theni Easwar (Cinematography). We don’t have much dialogues in the film, it’s the music which needs to convey the emotions. Yuvan shines here and takes you along with the story and the characters. The songs also match the mood of the film. The nature plays an important character in the film and Theni Easwar’s camera captures each frame beautifully. 95% of the shots are still frames and each one is a photograph in itself. It keeps you glued to the screen. You miss something beautiful even if you just tilt your head away from the screen for a moment. The dialogues are simple and at the same time strong enough to create an impact on you. The scenes where Amudhavan tells Viji "Inspite of having a healthy child like this, if you thought of cheating me, then you must be having some other bigger problem" stays with you even when you leave the theater.
It’s hard to find negatives in such a beauty of a film. However, there are few areas which could have been explained more in detail. For eg: we are not given a strong justification for Amudhavan not sending Paapa to a special school for studies or even for treatment. This is not even an option for him when he moves out of the city. I felt the film was dragging a bit in the second half, some harsh editing would have helped. But this definitely does not affect the mood of the film.
“Peranbu” is not for “Masala” film lovers. This is movie making at its best and something which needs to be cherished and experienced. This is indeed one of the best films to have come out of Kollywood in recent times and definitely the best work of Ram till date. If you are in the mood for some good cinema, don’t miss this gem!
Rating – 4/5