Peranbu (2019) Tamil Move Review – Veeyen

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Brilliantly performed, visually striking and deftly structured, ‘Peranbu’ is an avowal of a fortune that we live with every day, and a prompt to remain forever thankful for the miracle called life. Beyond the personal odyssey of a dad and a daughter caught up in a whirlwind of existence, it is an exemplary exploration of faith, compassion and above everything else, acceptance.  


There’s a point when you take ordinariness for granted, when you actually start believing that the predictability that has encompassed your life has become a bit too overwhelming. As uneventful as life has evolved to be, you dispassionately ebb along the tide of non-happenings that fill up every day, day after day, and look around for possible reasons to be elated or even forlorn, keenly hoping that your everyday life was somehow a tad different.

And along walks in film maker Ram, who grabs you by the arm and leads you out of the snug confines of your space, where you had decided to spend yet another restful day, bored and snuggled up on the bean bag, ruing on how commonplace life has turned out to be.  You see that there’s a terrible downpour out there, and as the film maker insistently walks you out into the torrent despite your protests, drenching you in the rain, you get to watch them for the first time ever – a middle aged man and his young daughter on a coracle boat, drifting towards a house banked on a remote grassland, somewhere far away from the clamour and hustle bustle of societal existence.


Amudhavan (Mammootty) is startled and shattered when his dejected wife decides to call it quits and leaves him alone with his daughter Paapa (Sadhana), a spastic girl who has just entered her teens. The man who has toiled away his better years somewhere in the Gulf, is left with no option but to move away with her when her shrill screams antagonise the neighbours.

Strangers to each other, Amudhavan and Paapa head over to a place that keeps the prying eyes at bay, where he commences his efforts to win over her trust that seems so long lost. When none of his earnest endeavours bear fruit, along comes a swallow that finds itself trapped within the house, that he sets free, by flinging the doors open. Papa is overjoyed, and the swallow that flies away leaves behind what seems like the beginning of spring.

But the season of flowers does not last. Paapa vigorously senses the hostility around her and retreats further and further into the cocoon that she has spun around her tormented self. Slamming the door on approaching faces and bolting herself inside the cloistered confines of her room, she further drops down onto the floor and crawls underneath her bed, shutting out the very last bit of light that had decided to stream into her world.


‘Peranbu’ evolves into an exhilarating experience through the subtle sensibilities that Ram maintains throughout, without ever stepping over that cross line where it runs the danger of being flooded and washed down a gush of emotional turmoil. There is a tremendous grief that lies buried within its delicateness, and a hundred unvoiced lessons that lie strewn all along the way.

Ram’s feature focuses on individuals who are shorn of the security blanket that the society confers on people who pride themselves as normal. It is not just Paapa who finds herself at the receiving end; there is also Meera (Anjali Ameer), a transsexual who has taken to prostitution, whom Amudhavan runs into, in the dead of the night, who is ‘neither a man nor a woman’ as a cab driver nearby condescendingly remarks.

Even in the midst of all the gloom that pervades these lives, Ram gifts them with rare moments of peace and joy, when they get to gaily glide through short-lived spells of contentment. On one such instance, setting herself beside Amudhavan in the cab, Meera rolls the window down and juts her face out just a bit, letting the cold wind blow across and beaming at the night lights that swiftly fall behind as the car speeds by.


The boy at the rehab centre is also one that takes an instant liking towards Amudhavan, and distraught as he is, reluctantly moves his hand towards the older man and gently runs his fingers over his beard. Through such unspelt and undefined acts of adoration, they reach out to each other, hoping to find a harbour somewhere on the shores of the tumultuous seas where they have remained adrift all along.

As we get busy devising an appropriate euphemism for the term ‘disability’ in a flushed universe that regards anything that is dissimilar to the conventional norms as bizarre, Ram drags us along and drops us right before a distraught Amudhavan, who approaches the head of an NGO for sex workers, beseeching her to lead him on to a gigolo who could be of service to his daughter.  A tight slap is delivered straight across, and still smarting from the sting on his cheek, the man apologetically mutters as to how helpless and perplexed he truly feels.

And yet, there is the devastating finale, where the resurrection finally takes place, where on a beach after blowing bubbles against the moonlit sky, Amudhavan decides to take Paapa along on a journey of no-return. It all suddenly seems so blue and bleak, and yet there is an antidote that the film maker holds in store, that talks of how life has an uncanny way of throwing an agreeable surprise your way, even as it has continually bogged you down with its countless snags and hurdles.


There is an unhurried self-assurance with which the camera lingers over Mammootty’s face – long, extended stretches of silence and idleness where it waits for the astounding alteration of the accomplished actor into a desolate dad who sees only a daunting darkness around despite all the positivity that he shines his torch on. It is a horrific struggle of survival for Amudhavan as he finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the depths of isolation and gloom, and Mammootty’s terrific performance resourcefully works on all the shades, shadows and contours that make Amudhavan’s immense despair complete.

There is not a hint of plasticity in Sadhana’s flawless portrayal of Paapa, and instead she loads it up with oodles of resentment, misery and sorrow that a lifetime of battling with injustice and unfairness has brought down on the young girl. It isn’t a performance that is easy to pin down, and coming from an actor who is as young as Sadhana, it stuns you in more ways than one. A very special mention also needs to be made of Anjali Ameer, who in spite of being pitted against two exceptional performers holds her own ground with a finely textured feat of her own.


Theni Easwar’s fabulous cinematography retains a moody mystery throughout, focussing in and out of spectacles that often tell a story of their own. The turbulence that is infused within the idyllic setting in the former half is capably captured, and so is the chaos and uncertainty that the city and its inhabitants bring along in the latter half. Yuvan Shankar Raja’s musical score is top-notch and is in-keeping with the melancholy of the piece.

Brilliantly performed, visually striking and deftly structured, ‘Peranbu’ is an avowal of a fortune that we live with every day, and a prompt to remain forever thankful for the miracle called life. Beyond the personal odyssey of a dad and a daughter caught up in a whirlwind of existence, it is an exemplary exploration of faith, compassion and above everything else, acceptance.

Verdict: Good

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