Starring: Karthik, Saravanan, Priya Mani
The "pun" in the title is intended. I really wanted to tag it as 'Romeo Sandiyar & Juliet Sandiyar'. This movie is an old excess-ethanol-killer-illicit-arrack in a new water packet. I doubt if the 'A Center' audience are elastic enough to like this movie. They probably won't. But I have a feeling that that this movie would be a huge hit in rurals a la' Sethu. Even though, I completely disliked 'Sethu' - I wouldn't miss Paruthi for the world. Sethu was mostly mediocre and cheap ass crap, which in retrospect looked better because of the last 20 minutes. It ended on a high and so the audience remembered the movie in a positive light. As Paruthiveeran lies naked showing his buttox, face down on the mud, dripping blood, Ameer makes sure this movie ends on a dramatic high. And that is the movie's biggest plus point. People walk out of the theater remembering the movie in a favorable light. Giving it more credit. Paruthi, though it sort of meanders and lingers needlessly in the first half, is a significantly better movie than Sethu even if it suddenly upgrades itself from 'eccentric' to 'good' in the last 30 minutes. Tamil cinema has traditionally drawn a lot of mileage and money from the phenomena of 'rape'. K. Balachander to Barathiraja have made huge amounts of money based on 'rape' and 'karpu'. Ameer milks this phenomena until it bleeds blood. Literally.
This movie is something Barathiraja would have been proud of. It is shot in a typical desertish village, somewhere near Madurai. However, this movie is completely unconventional. Unlike what Barathiraja can create. It portrays and deals with completely evil people. This aspect of the movie is very innovative. Its like 'Mudhal Mariyathai' Vadivukarasi falling head-over-heels in love with '16 Vayathinile' Parattai. You have no sympathy for either character. However, their love, as wretched as it is, touches you somehow. All the lead characters are despicable people. People you wouldn't touch with a 600 foot Boeing 747. Paruthi and his uncle are bad ass thugs who get in trouble just for the heck of it. Paruthi's noble ambition is to make it to Madras Central jail and have his name on the papers doing that. He is annoyed that the policemen steal their thunder in local newspaper photographs. They are the local goondas and they don't specifically work for anybody. They just stab other people in the "kundi" for deterrence sake and spend 2 weeks in jail for it. People in the village are afraid of these 2 people because these two try their best to irritate, annoy and bully everybody. I think this movie tells a six month segment in Paruthi's life. The first 2 hours has Paruthi having the time of his life. He makes fun of Police officers, bullys some of them, steals prostitutes paid for by truck drivers, humps them and only gives them any unused excess capacity. MuthuAzhagu, is head-over-heels in love with Paruthi because he saved her life when she was a child. She is a bitch of sorts. Tempermental, stays in the same class for 4 years just so that she is not put in the marriage market. Her voice is masculine, scary and she could easily slip in a villain in any movie. While not representative of any typical village belle, she is what 'Muthal Mariyathai' Vadivukarasi would have been in her formative years.
One of the significant strong points of the movie is also its weakest point. There is not much logic to anything that anybody does. If you don't buy into the fact that this movie is about semi-barbarians with minimal human emotions, you most probably won't like this movie. It gets worse if you somehow get a feeling that this movie somehow depicts real village life. Paruthi's antics, his arrogance and disregard for civilization, which get him into trouble often, does not make sense. Muthazhugu's unrequited love, her arrogance and her dialogs does not make sense. So does her parents inability to stop her. Not that it needs to make sense. Heck! many things most people do - never make sense. But it is too prevalent for my comfort. I loved these characters for it and hated them for the excesses. I was disappointed with 'American Beauty' because I thought every character in that movie was one-dimensional and all characters looked the same. Every character shown was cynical, evil, dark and sarcastic. They all seemed to say "look at me. I am so cool". After a point I started getting annoyed with that Sam Mendes movie because of that. This movie suffers from the same syndrome. Every character is a 'prick' of sorts. I would have been happy if there was one main character, who was sane and regular person. I am not sure if this is in anyway true depiction of village life. It needn't be. But it should tell us clearly that we are dealing with outliers. It doesn't. I understand that the tendency to take the 'veech aruval' is more in villages. But how come nobody shows respect to anybody? Things are too callous to be believable. Elders, youngsters, grandma, father - everybody is called a 'nayee'. Let me just stop by saying its a freakishly different movie.
As far as performances go Karthik has done a debut of a lifetime. Take a bow dude! I haven't seen a more powerful debut by any other hero. Come to think of it, he might get a career as an outstanding villain. No other actor in my recollection has entered film world with such an intense role. Come to think of it not many actors have done a full-throated "thevdiyaa pasangala". They way he casually humps prostitutes and says "kottaiya arithuduven" to policemen was simply awesome. I have never seen a person/character like this. He so fits into this role. You wouldn't believe he is an urban kid. While sarcasm and gaundamani-aping comes naturally for him, this pure evil 'porikki' role is a level-jump for him. He really comes of as a horrible thug. His last scene performance alone is high quality stuff. Not many seasoned actors can do what he has done. It clearly shows the amount of hard work he has put in for this role. If you look at debut movies of most of the current heroes, you would realize how awesome this role is. He looks like a seasoned actor in every frame he appears. Most actors have stiff legs and a stiff face in their debut movies. I remember Surya, Vijay, Ajit couldn't dance to save their lives in his first few movies. This fellow is just so natural. When he dances, you can really feel he is having the time of his life. He really brings back the 'bad is cool' theme. Very few actors start with such an unconventional role. By virtue of 'risking' this start he clearly looks and behaves like a seasoned actor. It has been a tough ride for him. After quitting a job, with a plan of acting in Ayitha Ezhuthu (for Siddarth's role), he was rejected as too fat by Maniratnam. He stayed in the game by designing Wall Posters/hoardings for movies like Kaakha Kaakha, moved to being assistant director in AE and then finally this movie happened. I really cant find anything bad about this role. His voice is much different in screen. I was surprised that it was his own voice. Priya Mani was also a surprise, although I hated her voice. She has done well. In many ways she is the real hero of this movie.
To sum up. The last 30 minutes are good for a reason. The build-up for the eventual irony starts eearly on in the movie. You feel sad for these wretched lives in the end. Evil begets evil and there is simply no retribution for any evil doer in this movie, which I liked. They way I liked madhavan's character in AE for being bad till the end. When priya mani says "nee panna paavathu poora yen thalai'la irakki vechutte" - there will not be a dry eye in the house. Especially Not so after we see how Paruthi decides to fulfill his promise to her.