Pariyerum Perumal Movie Review
Director Pa. Ranjith's has joined hands with Mari Selvaraj an erstwhile associate of director Ram for his maiden production venture under the banner Neelam Productions. The trailer promised an intense tale of oppression equated by a saga of friendship between a man and his dog. Does 'Pariyerum Perumal' delivers what it promised remains to be seen.
Set in 2005, 'Pariyerum Perumal' (Kathir) loses his pet hunter dog Karuppi to the evil designs of the upper class men in his area and mourns it as if its a human. He joins law college where he is ridiculed for his zero knowledge of English until a female classmate Jo (Anandhi) lends a helping hand and eventually falls in love with him. When the innocent Jo invites Perumal to her sister's wedding he is humiliated to the extreme level and beaten up badly without her knowledge. Perumal starts to avoid her but Jo keeps following him until her family decide to finish off the lower caste man by hiring a deadly assassin. Does the totally outnumbered Perumal stands up to them or the caste forces win against his resolve forms the rest of the screenplay.
Much has been talked about Kathir's promise as a performer even by his contemporaries like Vijay Sethupathi. After a long time he gets a chance to prove his caliber which he does in flying colors. Right from conveying his oppressed self through body language to maintaining a decent distance with the heroine to finally erupting under pressure the young hero has given an award worthy performance. The most remarkable thing about Kathir is his endurance of extreme physical pain for his role like rolling off a bicylce down a steep rocky slope to getting thrown around in rough terrain. There is no fault in Anandhi's performance as the innocent Jo but her character is too cheesy for a raw film such as this and its sad her efforts go in vain. Shanmugharajan as the actor for hire doing a Sivaji Ganesan impression is a scream while the actor playing the dalit law college headmaster scores in the best scene in the film. Karate Venkatesh as the caste driven assassin who commits murders with clinical precision is a new character on Tamil screen and his performance is spine chilling. Marimuthu, the actor who plays Kathi's queer father, his mother and the other actors fill in neatly. Yogi Babu does tickle the funny bones at times and also gets a chance to do some serious stuff.
What works best in the film is the one scene in the college where the principle also from a lower caste advises Kathir to fight for his rights in whatever way he feels right about. The truth about the hero's father and what happens to him makes one shudder and is a flash of brilliance in an otherwise weary film. The initial scenes about the relationship between the dog and the hero is also new to Tamil cinema. The humiliation that Kathir suffers at the hands of Marimuthu and his gang depicts how inhuman some men can be which is a stark reality. There is also the clever use of news headline sheets hanging in petty shops that lie to the people while what happens in reality is something they hardly will imagine. The parting shot by the director on two tea glasses and a flower bud in between conveys more than what the entire film tries so hard to.
On the downside setting the story in a rural Nellai area the hero himself not speaking the slang is jarring. Ditto with the heroine and Yogi Babu and most other characters who deliver their dialogues neutrally. The love story between the lead pair is not convincing enough to care for and since it eats up eighty percent of the film it weighs down the message the film wants to deliver. On the whole the screenplay is stretched beyond its limit resulting in boredom setting in. The evils of the caste system in rural Tamil Nadu that 'Pariyerum Perumal' wants to project has been handled most effectively in films like 'Kadhal', 'Uriyadi' and Ranjith's own past works Barring a few truly shocking moments the screenplay remains largely lackluster.
Santhosh Narayanan's songs and his bgm are nothing new from his usual body of work while the cinematography by Sridhar is on par with today's standards excepting the aerial shots that seem bleached. Selva RK could have made the proceedings crispier by doing something about the never ending scenes. Mari Selvaraj has no doubt tried to infuse a few new elements in his story telling that work for him but as a whole the tone and the narration is caught in the no man's land between staying true to his core theme and the trappings of commercial cinema.