When was the last time you saw such poignant performances from the entire cast of a film? Director GNR. Kumaravelan stumps you with Haridas (U) an intense presentation Tamil cinema can be proud of. Seeming glitches are smoothened out with care and logical explanations are offered for every cause and action. Autism as a theme can never be handled realistically by our filmmakers is the general idea. A desi movie in the league of say, a Rain Man, can only be a pipedream you think. So you enter the hall without much expectation because neither Kumaravelan’s Ninaithalae Inikkum, the Tamil remake of the Malayalam film, Classmates, nor his second film, Yuvan Yuvathi, were out-of-the-world creations.

But the moment Haridas opens you realise you will be treated to a unique visual experience. You are. Kumaravelan impresses.

The bonding between a father and his 10-year old autistic son, and the boy and his empathetic school teacher forms the fulcrum of Haridas. Sivadas, the father, gropes in the dark, trying to understand the mind of his motherless son, Hari, who seems to live in a world of his own. But the moment Sivadas understands his son’s calling, a world of hope opens for the duo.

In a story of emotions Kumaravelan has weaved in plenty of action too. At no point does Haridas sags. Intelligent editing (Raja Mohammad) is also a reason. Cinematographer Ratnavelu is another asset of Haridas.

The role of Sivadas (Kishore) travels on two parallel tracks — on the one hand he’s a conscientious policeman, who has the crucial assignment of nabbing a cantankerous anti-social element (Pradeep Rawat) and on the other he’s a devoted dad. Kishore straddles the parts with aplomb. Every role he has donned so far — be it a henchman, a smuggler or a kingpin with a kind heart, Kishore is an actor who vests it with ample dignity. Kumaravelan has tapped the actor’s potential well. He has rightly made him the protagonist of Haridas. He’s a protagonist who can deliver. Theatrics is kept to a minimum even in the scene in the rain where Sivadas cries out helplessly to his son.

Her maiden release after marriage was a dampener. Murattukaalai seemed a wrong choice for Sneha. But she returns to prove her mettle in Haridas. Those expressive eyes and body language that convey her thought processes effortlessly place Sneha apart.

The relevant and spellbinding lyric of the song ‘Annaiyin Karuvil …’ by Annamalai deserves special mention. The title score is lilting but Vijay Antony’s RR gets too loud at times. Sound mixing has to be blamed in certain scenes where dialogue gets inaudible.

For those who’ve watched Meghna Gulzar’s Closer, a well-researched study of autism, it should be clear that Kumaravelan has been very true to facts and doesn’t make any cinematic exaggerations. Obviously he has done plenty of homework to make the child look authentically autistic. And kudos to him for making Prithviraj play the difficult character of the child Hari quite commendably.

Yugi Sethu is in his element as the psychiatrist, and it’s a different Raj Kapoor you see in Haridas. He’s not the loud villain he usually is, but a martinet of a coach who gracefully accepts his fault.

Watch Haridas. He deserves to be supported.