Impressive. Sorry, Iraivi is the title of the movie. It was more a feeling rather impact that kept dwelling in me, for at least a week after I saw the movie. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to watch it one more time. I was done with this one – but the impact it left in me, is inexplicable. Or, is it? As I scrolled down the pages of my Facebook news feed glumly, I read this review that just resonated with the shades of crimson red and fire yellow, that Iraivi had left in me. I could not resist, and gave in to the discussion, that turned out to be a wonderful collaborative analysis about the celluloid drama.
~ Original review by Swami Nathan. The dialogue/discussion that follows was originally Facebook comments that has been moved to this blog for convenient reading. Swami Nathan is my good friend of mine, has an impeccable insight, voracious reader, and an intellectual conversation initiator. Dons as a thought provoking and responsible member of social media sites such as Facebook, Goodreads, etc..,
As touted by media, Iraivi is definitely not a film which celebrates womanhood. It has more than that and as a matter of fact it implicitly brings out why woman find their own cages. What is surprising about the film is that it is made by a three film old director, who is in his early thirties, who has never been an assistant director, yet had observed life and people is such close quarters. The films pace is something very unique and is a thing which Tamil audience are not used to – After all we made Chinna Thambi, a box office hit a few decades ago. Finally I’m not giving a verdict on how good or entertaining the movie is. But just wanted to share some observations.
Have never come across a Tamil film in recent times, where metaphors are used so beautifully and extensively [at times suffocating too]. Be it first scene where Illayaraja’s Thendral vanthu Theendum bodhu song soothes in background, while Arul [ SJ Surya] is intoxicated with his Takila [ as a mark that both are intoxicants] or the heist being planned on lady deities, as they have more market value or the background song “Unnai Thaane” during the bedroom scene or two cups shown in rain, one closed and one open collecting the rain drops in the scene between Yazhini [ Kamalinee Mukherjee] and her friend.We have Doss,[ Radharavi] , who is a sculptor, whose work is planned for a heist by his sons after years, and in parallel, we are shown his wife, whose value he realizes only after she moves to comatose in her last years, just like his sculptures.
The director beautifully brings out the nuances of four kinds of ladies. The old generation Arul’s mother [Vadivukkarasi], who prefers to wipe her tears in silk saree, all bejeweled, complaining about her husband, still remembers to pick his spectacles in first scene – Here she is more concerned on what her relations would think about her ill treatment rather than what it means to her or how it hurts herThe modern Yazhini is no different. She chooses her life partner, silently bears the pain and oscillates between what she has and what she wants till the end. She is all bejeweled in last scene, still not wanting to drench herself in rain. Are they not the choices of these ladies? Yazhini still needs the support of her father, when it comes to her personal failure. She is shown as a corporate woman stuck in routine and giving to the demands of societal pressures. She is shown as a working woman, who decides to remarry, goes to pub. But is she strong?
On the other hand, take a look at Malar [ Pooja], a widow – shown as an artist [ kudos to the way director chooses the background of the characters], who needs Michale [ Vijay Sethupathi] only for sexual needs. She comes across as a blunt and practical woman, whom we would want to call as whore. But, she is THE lady who understands another woman – the scene where she silently looks at Micheal leaving her house on a rainy day from her window and the lie which she utters, to make him leave. In the temple song, amongst all three, she is the one who is clad in white, while all others hallucinates Michale in black attire – it is Ponni who stabs him with her trident.We have a girl who can reject a diamond necklace and confidently say she has the power to earn what she wants. She too had personal debacles, but confidently speaks that she has recovered from that phase of life – A practical, but rebellious character.
Ponni [ Anjali, one actor of recent times, who has immense screen presence] is the actual Iraivi. She is the usual lower middle class girl dreaming for Thala and Thalapathi as her partner, but quickly accepts Michale. Unlike Yazhini, she is not educated, liberated, no strong parental support and does not choose her partner, yet she had the guts to leave her husband and take care of her kid, not once, but twice. The question of Michael to her on Jegan, which she refuses to answer till end shows her tenacity. She is a lady who has nothing to loose. No societal pressure. She is not confused as Yazhini. She accepts boldly that she did fall in love with Jegan [ Bobby Simha] and within few minutes could shower love and hug Michale, constantly wanting to rebuild her life from the shackles, to the best possible.There are only fine lines which makes difference between Ponni and Malar.Both are fighters, independent strong, but still the lines makes a difference.
The film just not touches on feminism. It talks about childhood trauma – Jegan, who has seen woman helpless all through his life, goes to any extent to ensure the welfare of Ponni. Like all protected second child in a family, which is controlled by the father [ Radha Ravi], where woman are treated badly, there is no reason for the behavioral mysteries of Jegan. He is in the beginning stages of a “Guna”.The film touches on slavery, which is intricately woven in our society. Michale and his uncle John [ Seenu, in a much needed lime light for him] are shown as unquestionable loyalists for generations to the family of Arul, who are eventually exploited [ There is also a reason behind the religion of John & Michale, which is subtly told]. The last scene where Arul tells Michale – Nee Enaku Thambi maathiri da, Jegan en Thambi. Wow!!!
Look at the way Men are shown – The scene how Michale kisses Ponni in the first night and how different it is when he kisses her when she tells him that she is pregnant with his child, the scene where he hastily leaves the train to get toffee for his kid who calls him as Appa [all along being called as Uncle]. The possessiveness and the inquisitiveness in the veins of male are shown when he eagerly questions the chastity of Ponni [We all do want Ponni to respond that she had not slept with Jegan – After all we are all Men]. The importance what he shows to Ponni, only after they get a child and after Malar rejects him. That is Indian Men for all of you, who stayed in the womb of a woman for 10 months.
There is one scene which sums up the story– When all Men plan for the heist in the hospital, Arul’s mother is shown lying in the center in comatose. That is how Men treat and want woman in their life. But it is left to woman to choose whom they want to be – Ponni / Malar / Yazhini. And why for woman. It is applicable for men too.
Gogal – Don’t you think there’s some courage and a lot of thought process involved in choosing girl kids for both the characters Swami Nathan? The unfolding of the subtle psychopath in Michael, all of the wrongly channelized brought up in jegan, that half baked good for nothing hot bloodedness in arul, that ego not letting himself admit his defeat in front of his emotionally losing sons, despite a comatosed wife, the extremely humble and honest destroyer – the chithappa … weakness despite strength, strength despite the weaknesses. That insight to portray that gender is so much more than just sports and gossip! This director seems to let the characters write themselves, so much closer to life explained in the Vedas. The director seems to observe life passionately. Hats off.
Swami – Gogal, And the director is only 3 films old. That is what fascinates me. But why do you call the chitappa as honest destroyer? Amazed at the way that character asked Ponni to leave the place in climax
Gogal – I guess if you are a keen observer in life, experience can be matched. Also makes me wonder if assistant directorship is a lot about observance really, maybe?! Chithappa – I think ignorant is a better word … I was so hoping he would do the earnest elder of the house … taking blame and letting the young one thrive but that was a brilliant touch .. another place where the character wrote itself .. He is a man … of simplicity … he will never compromise on that. Asking ponni to leave .. is a brilliantly conceived scene .. not to blame men really … but every man in the movie (when they were good and bad) always had at least one bad point against the othen men in their lives .. .Jegan about his dad and Arul and Michael … Michael about Jegan and the producer (and Arul at the fag end … nee en thambi maadhri) … Arul about Michael … Not sure if the director tries to underline that trait where men come up with – you could have done that .. he could have done that … well ask yourself too? Only Arul does that! But why just Arul? Because there is a creator in him, who observes a lot! A bit of Karthik himself .. genius touch!
Swami – You wont belive, I had the same thought that Chitappa would take the blame and Michael would go scott free.. You are amazing on the observation about Men
Gogal – Not intending to beat on it .. but both of us missed something .. that stunning insight you gave on hospital heist plot plan scene – why was the interruption a female nurse? 🙂 Is there any difference between her and the comatose patient apart from the vegetable state? Neither of them are able to do anything about those men .. Well these men could not deal with their own angry self (their anger and their angry self is a vicious circle) … but still .. I hope you get my point. I did not think about this scene until I remembered that the director gives few secs of extra screen space to the nurse as she walks out from the dark room towards the lighted corridor after being shouted at by all the men .. ranting about this unruly behavior in a place that screams for silence .. and remember that was the time Radharavi broke his silence … Aaan .. nedil … Penn .. kuril … 🙂 Let me know what you think anna …
Swami – Abi… Wow..