Film that portrays the ordeal of house-hunting bags award

‘To Let’ wins laurels at 23rd Kolkata International Film Festival

Published - November 20, 2017 12:39 am IST - CHENNAI

CHENNAI, 19/11/2017 : Stills for the film To Let .Photo : Special Arrangement

CHENNAI, 19/11/2017 : Stills for the film To Let .Photo : Special Arrangement

The middle of the 2000s saw a boom in the information technology industry and the realty sector also rode on its coat-tails with rentals going through the roof. But the gold rush has also had an unintended casualty in the form of middle and lower class people who struggle to cough up the kind of money that the IT professionals are only too willing to pay for a pad in the city.

Hence, it comes as no surprise that To Let , a Tamil film that vividly portrays the ordeal of a lower middle class family hunting for a rented house, has found resonance among critics and won the best film award in the Indian Language Competition at the 23rd Kolkata International Film Festival. The award includes a memento featuring the Golden Bengal Tiger, ₹7 lakh cash prize and a certificate.

“House-owners who earlier refused to rent out their houses to bachelors shed all their inhibitions as a group of bachelors can afford to pay an amount unheard of in the past,” said Chezhiyan, director of the film. The jury had given a hand-written appreciation letter to Mr. Chezhiyan saying that he had taken “a mundane and ordinary story and lifted it to extraordinary cinematic heights.”

An engineer and cinematographer by training, Mr. Chezhiyan worked under P.C. Sriram before pursuing a career of his own in the film world. He has worked for films like Paradesi, Joker and Thenmerku Paruvakaatru.

“While those who have money find it easy to acquire a house, other suffer. House-owners come up with their own criteria for renting out their flats or houses. Caste, religion and other social background of those who seek house for rent play a major role. So people from particular religion and caste start living together, leading to ghettoisation,” said Mr. Chezhiyan, who penned the script and dialogues besides working as the cinematographer.

Doing away with music

Though historically Tamil cinema and music are inextricably linked, Mr. Chezhiyan chose to dispense with music.

“As we move closely towards realistic cinema, the first element that make an exit is the music. The sound of radio and television, the conversation of people and an auto on the road compensate for the music,” he said. He completed the film in 25 days and the actors are all new faces. The story revolves around a husband and wife and their little children, who suddenly face crisis and humiliation after their house-owner asks them to vacate the house.

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