Paradesi Movie Review
Cast: Atharva, Dhansika, Vedhika
The name Bala spells reverence in film industry and the director known for his gritty raw tales on lives of marginalized people is back again with Paradesi and this time around the National Award winner has set the milieu of his story in the pre-independence era in a tea plantation. Said to be loosely based on Red Tea by Paul Harris Daniel that has been translated into Tamil and Malayalam, Bala’s Paradesi chronicles the thorny path of an oppressed community.
Harsh famine pushes people from Chalur village to migrate to a tea estate for employment lured by the false hopes of an overseer (Kangani). At the tea plantation, they are subjected to a scheming slavery by a heartless group of people who work for Britishers. There is always an unusual brilliance about Bala’s body of work that is hard to disregard and Paradesi is no exception either.
The master auteur reiterates that he is the chief when it comes to delivering a realistic hard hitting tale. Brilliant characterization, good screenplay, amazing performance and overall a superb team work mark Paradesi. You don’t find any actors in Paradesi. They are all real people in whose sorrow and happiness, we take part.
We root for every character from the main to the margins and that’s where the success of a maker lies. Hence when the climax is being played out, it cannot but help strike a deep chord in our hearts. Heroes on screen have been lacking in failure and vulnerability but not in Bala’s films. As Raasa aka Ottuperukki, Atharva Murali delivers a stellar performance and he is bound to go places in the industry!
He handles the buoyant and the submissive aspects of his characters with brilliant acuity. The scene where he opens his mouth to receive food from Vedhika or his disappointment in the wedding where he is dodged of food or the climax scene where he portrays a totally helpless countenance are just a few samples.
Vedhika who reminds a lot of yester year Srividhya performs spiritedly and is comfortable in her character while the nuanced performance of Dhanshika scores well too. Atharva’s grand mom is amazing and she makes a solid impression with her unique voice and her wisecracks during serious situations bring cheer.
Villains in Bala’s films are always menacing and ominous that you would actually want to reach for their throat at the slightest opportunity and Jerry who plays the Kangani in Paradesi also elicit the same response. The vicious glint in his eyes is quite forbidding. Sharp wits are a part of every Bala’s film and Paradesi follows suit too.
The top of the pick would easily be ‘andha ezhavai ellam unga mandiri kittave kelunga’ that comes up when Atharva’s uncle is asked about the count of his paramours. Bala also throws light on the conversions of the colonial times and the Viceroy’s comment that these people are more dangerous than the Kanganis drive home the right effect.
Nanjil Naadan’s dialogues lend veracity to the period feel. The Panchayat scene where Atharva and Vedhika communicate through sign language is poetic. The climax is a riveting one that makes a huge impact. Technically Paradesi’s team has worked in sync with the script. Chezhian’s camera work is one of the highlights of the film which glides through the nooks and corners of the settlement of the village unobtrusively and is in tandem with the mood of the film.
G V Prakash’s scores have well reached the audience and all the numbers gel well with the narration. As always, in Paradesi also, Bala has chosen an unchartered turf to tell his tale and has delivered with aplomb. But for people who prefer populist fare and happy stories that are far removed from reality, Paradesi may not work.
Bala takes a bitter pill and has not made any efforts to sweet coat it but still makes a powerful impact. And next time when you have tea, Paradesi would definitely come to your mind.
Verdict: A hard hitting realistic tale well told!