Film: "Neerparavai"; Cast: Vishnu Vishal, Sunaina, Nandita Das, Samuthirakani, Saranya Ponvannan and Thambi Ramaiah; Director: Seenu Ramasamy; Rating: ***1/2
We've had movies about politicians, terrorists and people from different other communities, but rarely we get to see a film on the sea-folks and their miserable lives. This is precisely what National Award winning director Seenu Ramasamy portrays in his latest offering "Neerparavai".
Estheramma played by Nandita Das, is awaiting the return of her husband in her sea facing house for the last 25 years. Her son is in dire need of money for which she needs to sell the house, but she wouldn't because her husband hasn't returned yet.
As the flashback of young Estheramma takes us back in period, we learn about her relationship with Arulappasamy played by Vishnu, son of Uduman Gani and Mary played by Saranya. Arulappasamy spends most of his time aimlessly roaming and drinking and thus earns the hatred of his parents, local priest, Esther's guardian and many others.
While the whole of first half highlights the mischiefs of a drunk Arul, it's in the second half that he understands the importance of life and tries to earn good reputation. What prompts Arulappasamy to take control of his life, forms the rest of the story.
The viewer can very well appreciate the relationship between the sea and the characters. Writer duo Seenu and Jeyamohan have done a lot of detailing in the screenplay.
Emphasis is laid on the lifestyle of the characters and the difficulties they encounter in their day-to-day lives. Seenu throws light on religion of the sea-folks and the political regime, but doesn't harp on it strongly.
Although the film is backed by deft screenplay, one would still find it hard to sit through the first half because the film meanders at snail's pace.
Saranya as Vishnu's mother effortlessly plays her part, while Samuthrakani as the hero's father was brilliant. Nandita in her brief appearance shines. Vishnu as Arulappasamy and Sunaina as young Estheramma in the lead display immense perseverance and conviction in their acting.
There are too many characters introduced in the film and most of them are left hanging without any resolution, which definitely irks at one instance as you are left wondering what the relationship between the characters is.
Music by Raghunanthan is passable, while cinematography by Balasubramaniem is spectacular. The opening shots capture the magnificence of the sea, both during day and night.
Overall, "Neerparavai" is a fitting and beautiful saga of sea-folks, whose lives most often get sabotaged by reality.