Nuances, ironies and strong messages subtly put, stand testimony to the expertise of acclaimed director, Seenu Ramasamy. Neerparavai (U), his latest, has a story chiselled with care, screenplay crafted to sustain interest, and dialogue (Jayamohan joins hands with Seenu for it) that’s at once simple and intelligent. Yet, after having developed the murder angle to a crescendo, when eventually the truth unfolds, you feel slightly let down.
Even as the camera pans the sad face of Nandita Das, sitting in a corner, incarcerated and alone, you understand that there’s a solid tale waiting to be told.
Skirting sensitive issues without actually getting into the politics of hate and injustice, Seenu Ramasamy very astutely makes an emphatic point or two. And the character he makes use of for it is Samudirakani, who plays Uduman Ghani, a boat builder with empathy for the suffering fishermen. The actor brings immense spontaneity and dignity to the cameo. Another experienced actor who impacts in a small role is Vadivukkarasi, the illicit liquor vendor. Fine examples of apt casting!
Performances are a strong point of Neerparavai. She shot for just six days for the film, you hear. But the narration is such that it gives you the feeling that Nandita Das is present throughout. Her laudable underplay makes her an unforgettable feature of Neerparavai. Solemn eyes, desolate demeanour and reticent behaviour — Das’s Esther will stay with you for long. So will Sunaina, who plays the younger Esther. Give her a solid role and she can do ample justice to it, proves the young heroine. But how did Seenu think that Sunaina can transform into Nandita Das in a matter of two decades? The two don’t bear any resemblance to each other. Incidentally, the artist, who has given voice for Das, deserves praise too. It’s a major break for Vishnu as Arul the drunkard, who turns over a new leaf. The hero acquits himself well, but he has to work harder on his diction.
The ingenuity of Seenu comes to the fore when he blends humour with pathos to provide the right amount of relief at appropriate junctures.
Every character, big and small, has been conceived with a purpose. All of them help in taking the story forward, and they do it convincingly. ‘Poo’ Ram as Lourdhsamy, the father of Arul, has lived the role. Anguished dad or affectionate father, Ram projects emotions in as natural a manner as possible. As for Saranya Ponvannan, she proves yet again that such emotion packed parts are child’s play for her. She is the ever-loud, doting mom, Mary — an apt foil for the grim and silent Esther Senior (Nandita Das). Thambi Ramaiah is another actor who leaves an indelible mark. This teacher with a weakness for the bottle will be remembered for long. His verbal antics with Paandi are hilarious.
N. R. Raghunandan’s songs are soothing on the ear, and his RR warrants mention. If an award for cinematography is on the cards, Neerparavai’s lensman Balasubramaniem will emerge a strong contender. The stunning visuals of the fishing hamlet are a connoisseur’s delight.
As a producer, Udayanidhi Stalin can be proud of having backed a purposeful film, and as a creator, Seenu Ramasamy makes the water bird preen, and soar with confidence.
Director: Seenu Ramasamy
Cast: Vishnu, Sunaina, Saranya, Nandita Das, Thambi Ramaiah
Storyline: Her son is keen on selling the ancestral house but she wouldn’t hear of it. And when the truth behind her stand comes out everyone’s shocked …
Bottomline: If meaningful cinema matters to you, go for it.