Paradesi FDFS Review - A Film by Bala
‘Paradesi’ is based on real life incidents that took place before independence during the 1940s. Paradesi is inspired from a novel called 'Eriyum Panikadu' (translation of Red Tea). The film delves into the wretched lives of tea plantation workers. The movie realistically depicts the lives of poor carefree villagers who are lured to work in tea plantation farms and how they are forced to live rest of their lives as slaves with no trace of hope and freedom.
Bala's unadulterated cinematic vision
Bala is always known for handling strikingly different themes and capturing human emotions brilliantly on screen. He does it again this time with no commercial compromises whatsoever. After the disappointing Avan Ivan, this is exactly what the Bala fans would have expected from the master story teller. Bala will completely satisfy his loyal fan base. But, it will prove to be a challenge for rest of the general audience who seek non-stop entertainment in the form of comedy, which is now in vogue.
The opening shot is striking as the camera traverses freely through the village houses where one can feel a sense of freedom. The final shot is constructed in a similar manner but conveying an entirely different vision of distress and helplessness. The movie is filled with such excellent visual story-telling throughout. One such example is a long line of people migrating from the village to tea estate, especially the scene showing snaking long line of villagers drinking water from a pond. Similarly, the wedding scenes in a poor village during pre-independence era is realistically and interestingly constructed.
Calibrate your expectations and mindset
Please don't go in with the expectation that a movie should start and end a certain way. This is Bala's movie. The story begins in a straightforward manner and there is no clue of where the journey may lead. Just let the master take you through his haunting visions of slavery in our history. Having preconceived notions will work against your movie watching experience.
Secondly, it may be interesting to watch the movie as a detached observer witnessing how dreams are stolen from poor & guileless people by selfish individuals in power. The movie is probably the most genuine portrayal of slavery in Indian cinema. In this regard, Bala doesn't differentiate between imperialistic rulers or Indian supervisors working for the Britishers or christian missionary doctors who are all shown to have the same purpose with different execution methods of ruling the slaves.
Casts have lived the characters
Atharva, Dhansika and Vedhika have lived the characters. Atharva's big expressive eyes help bring out varied emotions. Dhansika has given a measured performance by bringing out subtle reactions. Vedhika's characterization is quite the contrary to Dhansika's. Vedhika is seen as a bubbly prankster who brings some relief to the proceedings during the pre-interval portions. Most of the other characters are not known faces. Casting of these character are so unique, yet so real, making a lasting impression.
Music and technical departments serve as the backbone
GV Prakash's music appropriately brings out the right emotions and BGM seamlessly blends with the scenes even though the sounds may not exactly suit the 1940s. Camera work is smooth and serves as the viewfinder for director's vision. The parched tone lends itself well to the theme and matches the time period in which the movie is set. The editing supports the smooth flow of the story with no gimmicks to manipulate the pace. The art direction, costumes, set properties and make-up departments are excellent in bringing to life a slice of time period in history.
Creative Fulfillment over Box Office Outcomes!
Chances at the box office may be uphill. Bala doesn't artificially sprinkle the narration with melodrama, cinematic romance, triumph of good over bad, power of hope and uprising, revenge-seeking action nor clapworthy dialogues. Bala could've easily done a few compromises here and there to make it a commercial appealing movie which he has also successfully done it in the past. But, looks like the master was just not in the mood to do so this time.
The story, concept and emotions portrayed are universal and applies to any time period in history or even future. Bala and his team totally deserve to sweep a number of national and global awards this year. Paradesi will be unanimously praised by film-makers and critics for the boldness and obsession of Bala's uncompromised vision. No doubt, Paradesi will be a landmark film for director Bala and Tamil cinema.
Paradesi Rating -