‘Natchathiram Nagargirathu’ film review: Maybe Pa Ranjith’s best, although it’s too long

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This is Ranjith’s finest and purest film to date. Not only in terms of what it stands for, but also in the form in which it presents itself. This visual language is also a departure for the filmmaker

This is Ranjith’s finest and purest film to date. Not only in terms of what it stands for, but also in the form in which it presents itself. This visual language is also a departure for the filmmaker

Lovers in bed having a seemingly pensive but uneasy conversation about their relationship shouldn’t ideally remind you of that continuous shot in Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal contempt. But that’s what makes Pa Ranjith’s stunning opening sequence so special Natchathiram Nagargirathu makes with you There is contempt here too, only it takes a different form: a casteistic remark.

Rene (Dushara Vijayan. She is the best protagonist of Pa Ranjith) and Iniyan (Kalidas Jayaram in an effective performance) have a heated discussion about Ilaiyaraaja’s music. Their different personalities determine their political beliefs and where they would like to stand: Iniyan, a fan of Nina Simone, is dismissive of the Maestro, while Rene says that Ilaiyaraaja is as superior as the American singer and activist. If not more.

Iniyan is “triggered” by Rene’s performance of “En Vaanile”. johnny – a film that dealt with imitation and identity crisis and a woman who leads a life of imprisonment and asks her to stop it. Check out the song selection. It is also political. Iniyan interrupts her as Rene sings this line: “Neerodai polave ​​en penmai. Neerada vandhathae en menmai.” This ” penmai” and ” menmai‘ later segues beautifully into Rene’s arc, where she talks about a shadow called caste that has let her walk her whole life but also empowered her to be fearless and confident. “It’s my social identity,” she says. We will get there shortly.

Anyone who thinks this scene is a harmless argument about music is wrong. Rene (her birth name is Tamizh) is Dalit and she is tricked into realizing this by Iniyan. The nature of this scene is political and reminded me of the great short film Modi & a beer, also produced by Neelam Productions. Rene and Iniyan split up and the title card “A Pa Ranjith Movie” appears. love is political

Natchathiram Nagargirathu

Cast: Dushara Vijayan, Kalidas Jayaram, Kalaiarasan, Hari Krishnan, Charles Vinoth and Subatra Robert

Directed by Pa Ranjith

Storyline: A theater company creates the basis for staging a play about love, its politics and the various narratives that society carries on to maintain the status quo.

The first half hour leading up to Tenma’s energetic “Rangarattinam” song is so finely written and detached that it can be taken as a solid example for understanding why A film needs a great set-up. Ranjith did this with before Sarpatta Parambarai, where his first half hour was painstakingly spent establishing his world. But this film also takes a long time to reach its first escalation point. Subeer (Regin Rose), mentor of a physical theater group, comes up with the idea of ​​a love game. They discuss love, its politics and its facets, which turns into a heated discussion that shows people’s true colors. What types of love are there? cross-caste? interfaith? queer love? Unrequited love? Natchathiram… is that all.

By making inclusive cinema with a multitude of voices with diverse gender, sexual and political identities, Ranjith illustrates the point that the oppressed class of one can also become a dominant voice in another. This is evident in the scene where a character blames an upper caste name for being muted. And Dayana (Sumeeth Borana), a queer person, is upset. Dayana is quiet a minority and is constantly threatened by oppression because of his sexual orientation. But that doesn’t seem to negate the privilege of his caste. Therefore, the film questions the foundations of hypocritical beliefs and prejudices. For example, one character shoots down love based on physical attraction, calling it ” gaji” (Desire). But the same person asks his potential partner for a selfie when she tells him she just took a shower. Or when Shekar (Charles Vinoth) says, “Love has nothing to do with age.”

Of course, it starts out as a romance between two characters. But soon we realize that it’s not about Rene and Iniyan. We get the big picture. It’s about a movement theater group to which you belong. Essentially, their “love story” becomes part of a bigger thing. This is a feat by Ranjith. The theater backdrop, in which people of different skin color and social background merge into one unit, serves as a stepping stone for a picture of society as a whole. Therefore, the imperfections and political consciousness of the characters become crucial in this labor of love. The fact that all characters are treated as components makes it clear that they only become a force to be reckoned with when they unite in the face of a threat Natchathiram Nagargirathu‘s core principle: “The universe is so big that we are just thugal (particles),” says a character in the film.

There’s a third key character: Arjun (Kalaiarasan is absolutely terrific), an aspiring actor who comes from a dominant caste and finds it really hard to fit in. His parents want him to marry Roshini (Vinsu Rachel Sam). On his first day, he is visibly uncomfortable around Sylvia (Sherin Celin Mathew), a trans woman who is also part of the theater group. Arjun is written as a counterpoint to Iniyan. But they both belong to two sides of the same coin.

Shakespeare called this world a stage and we are all just players. Natchathiram… seems to think in similar directions. By staging a “play” in which actors portray their respective characters, it strongly argues against it nadaga kadhal, a term slammed against Dalits by dominant caste groups to defame inter-caste marriages. Ranjith therefore takes this Nadagam (stage play) as a weapon to “enact” a performative play against honor killing. Parts of the performative pieces reminded me of Gasper Noe’s Climax.

The theater company encounters a roadblock because they cannot name the caste. Instead, they invent a metaphor: kaatu poonai (jungle cat) and Naatu poonai (pet cat). We might think the play is about these two groups until a feral cat comes (Shabeer Kallarakkal in a cameo). In theory, a cat cannot kill a tiger. It’s practically impossible. But what if 100 cats team up? one thousand? Sounds doable, right?

This is Ranjith’s finest and purest film to date. Not only in terms of what it stands for, but also in the form in which it presents itself. This visual language is also a departure for Ranjith. Notice the way it uses intermediate cuts (edited by Selva RK) which appear seamless for the Rene and Iniyan strand. Natchathiram… is also Ranjith’s ambitious film; he gets better as a filmmaker with every film. From the composition of the image to the setup of the settings to the color palette and Tenma’s music, this film speaks of ambition.

Natchathiram…is Rene’s story as well as Ranjith’s. Ultimately, it’s a film about it she Bow. She is treated as a guardian of conscience, to the point where if Arjun oversteps his bounds with her, he is willing to give him a chance. “Political correctness doesn’t come in a day,” she says. In the softest scene of this film, you see Rene opening a door on which is the mural of the Buddha. The light from the door illuminates the frame. Rene asks Arjun to follow her as if to embrace the Buddha. This is Pa Ranjiths Dhammam.

Natchathiram Nagargirathu is currently in cinemas.

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