Pariyerum Perumal - A visitor's review

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Debutant Mari Selvaraj wrote and directed this drama centered in Thirunelveli addressing the still widely prevalent discriminatory caste system. The casting of the film is top notch with a mix of moderately known faces like Kathir & Marimuthu and newcomers like Anandhi, Karate Venkatesan & Shanmugarajan which adds credibility to the proceedings & also throws light into how the filmmaker wanted to stay focussed on the task at hand which is to tackle a sensitive topic without getting masculine about it while never watering down the grim reality. Many filmmakers in the past have grappled to pull off this trampoline act which the debutant director takes on in Pariyerum Perumal.

What makes the film stand out from tons of other films which has dealt with the theme of caste is how it slides the audience into the mind of a person on the receiving end of the discrimination. To transform the said approach from paper to screen, Cinematographer Sridhar and Music Director Santhosh Narayanan aid immensely. Cinematographer establishes the demography of Nellai and its sun tanned villages which in turn provides a layer to the people that inhabit it minimising the distance between white screen and the comfortable seats laid out before it. Some frames which carry dense layers of happenings embedded in it appear organically.

Santhosh Narayanan adds a great degree of authenticity to the narrative while occasionally side stepping in some song structures. The background score also projects and visualises via musical notations what the young lead pair goes through. Special mention to Editor Selva RK for his impactful and crisp work on the songs.

Kathir plays Pariyerum Perumal to near perfection as he goes through brutally savage events conveyed in a nuanced yet powerful way to the viewers. Hopeful that his effort and work dosen’t go unnoticed by juries at major awards. Yogi Babu provides the lighter relief while orienting the audience into the world of Nellai blended into the narrative but as the movie progresses his character wanes off its meaningfulness.  The conception, motivations and performance of the character played by Venkatesan is unique in a way that it relives the audience of the usual typecast of the antagonist. 

The film is written is with a great understanding of the medium and certain scenes are conceived brilliantly which takes us on a nostalgic trip to the golden era of cinema. The mind of the protagonist charts the course for the screenplay while taking us along without ever being on your face/over the top. In short, writer Maari Selvaraj accomplishes impeccably what the producer of the film never managed to do. The final scene of the film is what elevates it to a different league. Viewed from the perspective of conception, blocking & dialogues, it is masterful and artful. A conversation which encapsulates the theme of the film without it being preachy and the subtler elements conveyed just by objects in the frame is a thing of beauty to witness in a Tamil film.

The film manages to maintain realism & authenticity throughout without giving much heed to melodrama which was waiting around the corner to happen. Pariyerum Perumal deals with other themes aside caste including language barriers and medieval mind set towards gender morphing artists. The motivations of all characters also do find place in this movie which is made in all sincerity highlighting the institutional discrimination and the ensuing anguish of the concerned folk.

Pariyerum Perumal also reminds us of the power of the platform i.e cinema where craft and well intended themes can do wonders in public discourse if used in right proportions.  Pariyerum Perumal is one of the best Tamil films to come out in recent times. Make no excuses and watch the film in the biggest screen near you.

Sriraman Srinivasan
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