Pariyerum Perumal – A punch in the gut about casteism!!!
Pariyerum Perumal starts with a note that reads 'Caste and Religion are against Humanity'. You wonder if the film would take a sermonising tone. Your fears are dispelled quite soon as Maari Selvaraj stamps his authority as a filmmaker whose intention might be to deliver a message but he also makes it clear that this should be the takeaway from a very well made film and not the film in itself.
The best aspect for me about the film is how it treats its characters. It shows caste as an evil character looming large all over. It is omnipresent. The bad men as you would term them are shown products of this evil but the film never makes a carricature out of any character. And the actors are solid. They look the part. Kathir is brilliant in the titular character. Very few times in Tamil cinema we get actors performing roles in a manner that is completely devoid of any artificiality.The best part is that this actor never looks like he is performing to prove a point. He simply seems to enjoy what he is doing. Anandhi is very good as Jo. She sells the innocence and naivety of her character beautifully. Marimuthu is terrific as Jo's father. As someone who knows fully well that he is acting against his conscience but has accepted the fact that he somehow needs to do the ugly things because of fear of societal dissaproval, the actor continues to amaze with his solid performances in Tamil cinema. The staff of the college, the Principal, the aged contract killer, Pariyerum Perumal's father (both the real and the impersonator) – the actors playing each of these roles bring out their A game. And what a relief it is to see the potential of Yogi Babu being used without any body shaming.
Technially the film is top notch. Santosh Narayanan brings out the anguish of Pariyerum Perumal through his work. The camerawork again is superbly efficient. The barren lands in the initial scene and that horrific scene in a closed room are just two examples. The shots ensure we get the horror of these scenes established in our minds but there is absolutely no overkill. We get shown only what is sufficient.
Maari Selvaraj should be a very important filmmaker of our times. Not only is his voice important, he also seems well balanced. He does not propose overnight solutions. He understands that this battle is going to be a long one and as much the oppressed should stand up for themselves, his concern about having the oppressor too understand his/her fallacy is very apparent. The climax is a testimony to this. He does away with a climax that most movies dealing with this subject have resorted to. There is no conclusion as such to the thriving issue at hand. The climax just reiterates the sad state of affairs and hopes that better sense would prevail someday. The relationship between the lead pair is another refreshing approach. Pariyerum Perumal is never sure on whether his feelings for Jo is actually love or not. The film is a sad reminder of how in our society young lives are lost even when they are just coming to terms with a romantic attraction and the feelings are not even allowed to thrive and get to a natural conclusion. Despite having excellent dialogues in the film, Maari Selvaraj is a filmmaker who understands the beauty of using visual language. The importance of education being the best tool for eradication of social evils is reiterated throughout the film. The film even uses blue as the visual representation for this. In an earlier scene a dog is left stranded helpless on the way of a moving train. Much later the image of the same dog in blue shade prevents a man from facing a similar fate.
Pariyerum Perumal is an extremely well crafted intense drama that throws light on something that humanity should be ashamed of.