Chennai, 29 Sep 2018 12:21 IST
If his first film is such a brilliant work, one can only wait in anticipation to see what Mari Selvaraj has to offer when he also has experience on his side.
Director Mari Selvaraj's debut film Pariyerum Perumal is nothing less than a masterpiece. It is a brilliant attempt at capturing the gross injustice that is meted out to scores of people on a daily basis, simply on the basis of their caste.
Based on the real life experiences of the director and those around him, the film forcefully and fearlessly brings to light the manner in which those from the oppressed classes are denied the right to a life of dignity.
The film shakes you out of stupor and makes you sit up and take note of the gross injustice that is being meted out to individuals around you everyday in the name of caste. Even long after it is over, the film haunts your soul and makes you fume about the state of affairs in the society.
The film revolves around Pariyerum Perumal (Kathir L Kavin), a youngster who hails from the oppressed class. He joins the Tirunelveli Law College in the hope of becoming a lawyer like Dr BR Ambedkar. The reason he wants to become a lawyer is to primarily help the members of his community, who are ill-treated by those from the 'upper castes' at every given opportunity.
Despite receiving no guidance, he manages to become the first person from his community to secure a seat in the law college. Perumal has a burning desire to become a lawyer as he wants to fulfill a promise he made to an elderly member of his community, who was thrashed by the cops for speaking up against their injustices.
Despite his passion for studies, Perumal is unable to learn, as he finds the education system ill-equipped to accomodate him.
The classes are conducted in English and Perumal who had been tutored in Tamil medium schools, cannot make head or tail of what is happening. His innocent enquiries in class are mocked or jeered at. Most professors insult and humiliate him. One professor, in particular, makes the girls in class laugh at him. On a daily basis, he is taunted, humiliated and made to feel like a worm, unworthy of the seat that has been awarded to him by the college.
With nobody to help, Perumal struggles, silently bearing the humiliation. His only solace in college is his friend (Yogi Babu), who though equally bad in English isn't a target of others as he belongs to a higher caste.
Perumal's father is a folk dancer who plays a female part in the acts that are performed on the streets. He has an effeminate personality owing to his profession. Realising that his family could be made fun of on account of his personality, the man rarely accompanies them anywhere and only provides for their needs with the meagre income he earns.
Perumal's mother, too, works as a labourer and struggles to make ends meet. They are in no position to provide Perumal any additioanl support or advice whatsoever.
It is at this time that Jo (Anandhi), a student in Perumal’s class, offers to help him learn English. Jo initially makes fun of him like everybody else in her class. But slowly she realises that Perumal is an exceptionally intelligent student who is handicapped because he doesn't understand English. Traumatised by the daily insults, Perumal gratefully accepts her offer.
He is a quick learner and soon clears both his English papers. By now, Jo, who is from an upper caste, falls in love with him. She wishes to tell him about her feelings but is unable to.
Jo's sister gets engaged and a wedding date is fixed. Jo uses this opportunity to introduce Perumal to her family and invites only him for the wedding. Perumal too decides to attend the wedding in the neighbouring Ambasamudram.
Borrowing a pant and a shirt from a friend, he attends the wedding. Little knowing about the consequences.
The film is brutally honest and holds back nothing when it comes to presenting the reality in many parts of the state. The film shows everything; from honour killings and misuse of power by those in authority (cops in particular), to the inhuman levels people can stoop to for venting their angst.
The film begins with a heart wrenching sequence and from that point on, director Selvaraj has you watching every scene with bated breath and fear. The film is so realistic that you subconsciously put yourself in the Perumal's place. As a result, you too experience the agony he feels.
The humiliation, the insults, the pain and the trauma a boy from the lower castes experiences couldn’t have been brought out better.
Kathir, who plays the titular character of Pariyerum Perumal, delivers a fantastic performance. Be it the sequence when his dog is brutally killed by being chained to railway tracks, or when he runs to defend the honour of his dad who is stripped and made to run naked. Even in the scene where despite his immense pain, he sports a smiling face in front of Jo, whom he considers his friend, Kathir is brilliant.
He deserves all the appreciation that an actor can possibly get for portraying a character so realistically.
Actress Anandhi comes up with an equally brilliant performance as Jo. Both artistes do a phenomenal job in playing their parts.
Apart from a mind-blowing story and phenomenal performances from the artistes, the film has some heart-wrenching, soul-stirring music from Santosh Narayanan. The background score is nothing less than brilliant as it accentuates the emotions on screen.
RK Selva’s cinematography is equally impressive. Both the music director and the cinematographer seem to have put their heart and soul into this film.
Mari Selvaraj has more than impressed with Pariyerum Perumal. If his first film is such a masterpiece, one can only wait in anticipation to see what he has to offer when he also has experience on his side.
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