Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pirivom Sandhippom

Karu. Pazhaniappan's debut Parthiban Kanavu was a wonderful film. Though simple and unassuming, it offered a complete package with a strong story with unexpected surprises, a meaningful script, nice performances, a superb soundtrack and funny comedy. After an uneasy foray into action with 2006's Sivappadhigaaram, the director is back to the softer, family-oriented genre in which he pleasantly surprised us. While Pirivom Sandhippom isn't as complete a package, it is obvious that this is what Karu. Pazhaniappan should stick to. Disarmingly realistic and paced just right to let that realism pull us in, it is a soft, feel-good film that serves as a good antidote to the violence and crassness of the other Pongal releases like Bheema, KaaLai and Pazhani.

Natesan(Cheran), who belongs to a large family, works as an engineer in the Electricity Board. His marriage is fixed to Visalakshi(Sneha), the only daughter of a businessman(Mahadevan). Visalakshi, who is used to spending all her free time with her friends, loves being part of Natesan's family. So she is more than a little disappointed when Natesan gets a transfer to a hillstation. But for Natesan, this transfer is the chance for some alone time with his new wife.

Pirivom Sandhippom sees Karu. Pazhaniappan take the Vikraman route. Cheran's large family, whose every member is affectionate, fun-loving and good, takes the viewers on a fun, feel-good journey. Their conversations and interactions feel natural and unforced and the undertone of humor keeps us smiling. Theirs is a family we would love to be a part of and its no wonder Sneha feels right at home. It helps that the family's goodness is not showcased through cinematic incidents or contrived sequences. There are a few scenes, like the one where Sneha is shown the family's puja room, that raise a sense of 'too good to be true'. But for the most part, their goodnaturedness is conveyed through everyday, practical situations and things never descend to the cinematic level of, say, Srikanth's family in Oru Naal Oru Kanavu.

There are quite a few spots where the director creates situations rife with possibilities and conveys expectations of something substantial brewing. As we learn that everyone in Cheran's family likes Sneha but one family member hasn't seen her yet or that newlyweds Cheran and Sneha aren't really going to have much privacy, we expect that these situations are simply the calm before the storm. We've been conditioned to expect something to happen in every scene by so many films that we expect these situations to lead to some problems. But then, as the situations unfold without any issues or crises, we realize that there is no real 'storm'. This lack of 'action' is a bit disappointing initially but once we realize the director's intentions, it becomes easy to enjoy the film for what it is - a simple, no-frills look at life as it is.

Cheran and Sneha moving out saddens not only Sneha but us too. They could be interesting characters but it was their being part of the bigger group of characters that made them interesting so far. But it does finally pave the way for the movie's central plot point.

We've seen several movies(and megaserials) where the new wife develops friction with members of her new family. So its interesting to see Sneha's problems arise because she is away from those same members. Her loneliness - both her initial attempts to tackle it and her gradual succumbing to it - have been captured effectively and we do understand her situation. Questions do arise(like why, inspite of her knowledge of and interest in books and embroidery, she never pursues them as a means of combating her loneliness) but it isn't too difficult to understand her plight.

Cheran fits the role though he mostly plays second fiddle to Sneha. Sneha is fabulous as always. She is radiant in the first half and the happiness she feels being part of the large family is very evident. Similarly, her expressions, body language and appearance accurately convey her state of mind once she moves out. Jayaram has a small but key role as a doctor and his likeability makes his dialogs(like his explanation of a doctor's role) less preachy. Actors like Mouli, Baskar and Ilavarasu fit the bill well. Vidyasagar delivers another album with emphasis on melody and barring one duet, all the songs play in the background, enhancing the movie's realism.


At 11:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice review. Thanks!

At 12:50 AM, Blogger D.E.V said...

u really enjoyed this film??? i nearly died of boredom and was wondering when the hell the movie intended to finish. The family factor was kind of nousating and remindid Sooraj Barjatys's kind of movies. i would have walked of not for Jayaram and his funny dialogs..

At 12:58 AM, Blogger Bart said...

As ever, had a fleeting glance at review which seems +ve throughout. A 2.5 * movie or 3 * movie? Will have to check this one. But I would probably try INA this weekend.

I saw Bheema. Was as cliched as it could be... Climax tries to save a bit but too late by then.. Makes me wonder "what the hell makes Vikram wait for 2 years or 1 year per movie"? He can come up with 3 or 4 Bheema's and Majaa's in the same time. He just is getting visibly old and wouldn't have anything worthwhile in his reportaire other than Bala's works. My expectations for Kandhasamy has dropped down, though it has Susi Ganesan at the helm.

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Balaji!

Dont tell Karu.Pazhaniappan stick to this kind of film-making!!! Please!!!

There is no Violence, Gore, Sex, Crass Comedy - I accept but absence of these DOES not make a movie a GOOD one!!

The first half was good (though it felt like watching an elaborate chettiyar wedding!!). But the second half and the predictable cliamx left no impact.

I have serious questions!

Question 1: Their wedding was an arranged one, right?! For 5-6 months no one from their family (except Chiththappa - that too for some other reason!) visit them??? Natesan & Sala also do not visit their families?!! - Leaving this out for his convenience, the director wants to "dramatise" Sala's loneliness!

Serious Question 2: This Hill Station is in Tamil Nadu only right?!! (I know it's a someplace near Pollachi!). - I thought it's far too difficult to travel there for VISA issues - unless you work there!! (Just stressing my point in question 1!!)

Question 3: Stressing family value and falling in love with husband's family is all fine & VERY WELCOME (BELIEVE me!), But what about one's career?!

Question 4: I understand that the newly-wed Natesan wants privacy time with his wife - but he too LOVES his family, right??!! Because the way he DENIES having a picnic with neighbours and friends seem to suggest that he hates his BIG FAMILY!!

Question 5: You thought about the same - the all talented Sala did not do anything to combat her loneliness!

Question 6: Is Sala's condition a pre-existing one? Or within six months developed into this serious level? If it was pre-existing one - the director did not drive that point home convincingly.

There are individual scenes that stood out exceptionally - like the one where Sala's telling all about what happened at home and her phone conversation, but Natesan sinks into to the sofa and all to busy watching TV!!! That scene immediately hit me!! (You are married and living here in US like me and you can understand that!!)

Jayaram was very likeable and Karuppu had me in splits when he said his color is "chocolate bron"!!!

But the movie as a whole did not work for me and fell flat.

At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am really looking fwd to watching this film. after watching "kalloori" i kept thinking how some of these character based dramas (even with whatever minuses they have) give me a much more satisfying movie-watching experience than a 100% masala movie (which I can enjoy on its own terms).

I am glad that Sneha has gotten a good role after quite a while. Her work in "Pallikoodam" was solid but Thankar Bachchan didnt give her much to work with...

also good to see Karu. Pazhaniappan getting back to natural dramas, the genre that gave him a memorable debut.

wonder if "Sadhurangam" (Srikanth, Sonia Agarwal) will ever see the light of day...

At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great movie.. I liked Sneha's acting.. Even though she cannot compete with Jothika, she's the next best actress.. I'm looking forward to seeing Trisha in Abhiyum Naanum..
Its time we give these women in cinema some encouragement. I'm tired of obscenity from Shriya, Namitha & Nayanthara.

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved this movie. I was looking forward to your review on this one, Balaji :). I have already seen this movie twice and I am not a movie fanatic, trust me!

I think this movie worked for me so much because I could relate to Sneha's role. I am here in the US and I miss my family, friends and even Chennai a lot. I do have a pretty good career going and I also love to read but that does not replace my intense feelings for my family or my hometown. At the most, it just distracts me from thinking about them. So I personally feel that the crux of the movie was not just Sala's loneliness but her sense of loss when she is separated from the family that she is so attached to. Or atleast, that's how I perceived... :)

Finally about this movie, I do agree that it was not a thrill-a-minute masala movie. But I feel that the director succeeded in telling his story right.


At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh BTW, I really liked this line from your review:
"...both her initial attempts to tackle it and her gradual succumbing to it..."
Bingo! Right on spot! You captured the entire second half of the movie in that sentence.


At 10:58 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, u're welcome :)

skanda, i guess this is another film where we differ. i loved the family factor and felt for Sneha in the 2nd half :)

bart, 2.5 * for this one :)

and ditto on vikram and 'bheema'. he really hyped that film and it was such a disappointment :)

apala, i agree. just the absence of those doesn't make a good film but i felt this one gave us something too.

i agree those r valid questions. but barring the one about sneha's hobbies, the others didn't arise when i watched the movie. guess i just accepted those as contrivances for the story to move forward :)

ram, will be curious to know ur review :)

pushpa, i've always liked sneha and would rate her higher than jo considering just acting :)

KK, nicely put. ur perception was probably exactly what the director intended to convey - loss rather than just loneliness...

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

apala, just the fact that the movie raised that many questions in your head means its got substance unlike most crap nowadays.

At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sujay

I loved movies with substance all my life and will always love those kind of movies!! (That's why I am such a huge fan of Kamal-sir!!)

Well, I would have loved this movie if these questions came up afterwards - but when these questions pop up while watching the movie did do any GOOD! That's the problem! Karu.Pazhaniappan was a LOT BETTER in Sivapathigaram than this one! The one thing I forgot to mention was that Sneha did extremely well as Sala! That's BIG PLUS for the movie!)
Anyway thanks for accepting that my HEAD is not empty!!!

At 10:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the few times I have to disagree with you on Balaji. I am usually a fan of experimentation and films depicting realistic aspects of life but Pirivom Sandhippom was dressed up in the asethics of "realistic" cinema but when examined deeper it is the same banal, cliched sentiments we've seen before. When the film was over I had the overwhelming urge to shout out "What was the point?!". It was frustrating because the film touches upon many issues that could have been studied deeper to give a more nuanced film. Pirivom Sandhippom is the equivalent to dipping your toes into the pool and not jumping in. It was long winded and arrived at a forced almost shallow conclusion. Though Sneha looked absolutely beautiful here, her acting was horrendous I thought. She had the same fixed, trance like face throughout the film (though she did have some bright moments in the 2nd half). This was one of the few films I had been eagerly awaiting and it's disappointing that it turned out to be an empty experience.

At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing we deem "realistic" cinema usually has a level of ambiguity about the subject it studies. There isn't a really clear answer or a right way of looking at the issue. I think what hurt "Pirivom Sandhippom" was that it wanted to study the lonliness that accompanies domestic life but it already had a convenient answer picked out. Big family = happiness. The audience saw it and knew the exact steps the film would take. The mental break was a really promising aspect I think Karu.Pazhaniappan should have focused more in on. What could have been....nice effort though.

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a way I can relate to Sneha's loneliness. My family lived in Ooty for 11 years. My mom was a voracious book reader and thats how she occupied herself. My dad was a government officer and he used to come very late to home after work. So, I could relate to the depressing weather and staying alone at home the entire day :-). I do miss my family very much, but it is really impossible for anyone to get bored out of their minds, because there is so much to do nowadays. The technological advancements- internet, tv, etc, keep you more than just distracted. I think this movie would have been very relevant 20 years back, when there was nothing to keep people occupied. Again, it would have been better, if they showed that despite pursuing hobbies she still felt lonely and missed her family. I can understand that. Most of us miss our family back home and can relate to that, no matter how busy we are....


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