PS Vinothraj Makes A Stunning Debut With Koozhangal (Pebbles), A Father-Son ‘Road Movie’

Director: PS Vinothraj

Forged: Karuththadaiyan, Chella Pandi

Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja

Virtually a 12 months in the past, director Ram known as me to observe a film by a brand new filmmaker. I went with out anticipating a lot, however what I noticed blew my thoughts. It was the purest “cinema” I’d seen in a protracted, very long time — one thing that advised its story with faces and landscapes and motion slightly than by means of dialogue. I provided to scrub up the subtitles (and so they have been variety sufficient to offer me an finish credit score) — however that is the sort of filmmaking that doesn’t want these subtitles. It really works at a visible, visceral stage, and I’m glad they have been capable of get large names on board to extend this movie’s profile. “Nayanthara and Vignesh Shivan current” says the producers’ credit score, originally. The music is by Yuvan Shankar Raja, who properly offers us little or no by means of a background rating. As a result of the sound design is way extra necessary. Music manipulates. Sound simply is.

This week, the movie —  PS Vinothraj’s Koozhangal (Pebbles) —  had its world premiere on the Worldwide Movie Pageant of Rotterdam. The opening picture is that of a fowl making a nest on a bent department. Past, there’s a shiny blue sky, there are clouds. Nature is woven into each body: whether or not Nature nature or human nature. The loosest, genre-based manner of describing the movie is as a “highway film”. From Wikipedia: “A highway film is a movie style by which the principle characters go away residence on a highway journey, sometimes altering the attitude from their on a regular basis lives. Highway films usually depict journey within the hinterlands, with the movies exploring the theme of alienation and inspecting the tensions and problems with the cultural identification…”

Also Read: PS Vinoth Raj, Director of Pebbles (Koozhangal), On Being Selected For The International Film Festival Rotterdam

That’s what Koozhangal is, in a nutshell, and it will get going when the short-tempered Ganapathy (Karuththadaiyan) discovers that his spouse has left for her mom’s home, some 13 kilometres away. The underlying problem is home abuse (Ganapathy is a foul-mouthed drunkard), however the movie doesn’t open with an “inciting incident”. It performs like a web page from a diary the place each web page (each day) is mainly the identical story. This isn’t the primary time the spouse has left residence. This received’t be the final. This simply occurs to be the time we witness this ritual. Ganapathy pulls his son Velu (Chella Pandi) out of faculty, and the 2 board a bus to get the spouse/mom again residence. (They don’t know this but, however the punishing return journey will happen on foot.)

We by no means see this spouse/mom. However within the bus, we see a lady who might be a stand-in for all such ladies in that area. She has a sleeping child on her lap. A combat breaks out between Ganapathy and one other man, and at first we hear them swearing at one another. Somewhat later, the newborn is woken up by the commotion. We hear the newborn crying, however we not hear the boys’s voices. It’s as if these males have been muted, changed by a brief stretch of ambient music. It’s a stunning Expressionistic impact. Like Ganapathy’s spouse, this lady, too, “leaves”. She will get down from the bus and seeks shelter beneath a tree. Lastly, she will get a number of moments of peace, away from all these males who appear to be indignant on a regular basis, their anger as scorching because the solar that has baked the earth dry over a protracted interval of drought.

Cinematographers Vignesh Kumulai and Parthib give us a spectacular collection of bleached frames that make us boil with the characters contained in the film. (When Ganapathy steps contained in the shade of his son’s college, we really really feel the coolness, and never simply because there’s a fan operating.) The true warmth is, after all, the fashion inside Ganapathy, which he sustains for nearly an hour of the 75-minute operating time. This makes the non-explosive climax all of the extra exceptional. With all of the anger that’s been constructing (and constructing and constructing) inside this man, you count on the human equal of a volcanic eruption. As an alternative, we get the human equal of the air hissing out of a balloon. In a tragic manner, it’s actually humorous. The non-professional actors non-act marvellously. Appearing manipulates. These folks simply are.

The most important portion of Koozhangal (the title is “defined” superbly with a quiet visible of a stack of pebbles) depicts father and son strolling again residence, after visiting the spouse/mom’s people. They stroll. They usually stroll. They usually stroll. Barefoot. The sound design (Hari Prasad) is excellent, as is the best way Vinothraj offers us geographical markers alongside the best way: bushes, large rock formations, a stone on which Velu has written the names of his dad and mom and sister, a household that catches and eats rats. Every part/everybody turns into a kind of “milestone” alongside the best way. Even the best way the geography of the villages is revealed is thru strolling. There aren’t any “establishing pictures”. We take a look at folks and houses and cattle and streets as Ganapathy and Velu stroll previous them.

Alongside the best way, we get some understated commentary. One of many academics who works in Velu’s college appears to have a extra “equal” relationship along with her husband. Perhaps the purpose is that schooling (and the ensuing monetary independence) has formed her life in another way? Once more, nothing is underlined and we’re free to make of it what we’ll. Alongside the best way, we get some surrealistic touches. The snake that crosses Ganapathy’s path, the anklet bells he hears (harking back to the “white-sari Mohini pisasu” trope in our cinema) — are these “actual” or the results of a mind that’s being fried by the warmth? Alongside the best way, we get a whole lot of poetry as properly. A lady who boards the bus with pots of water finds an echo with ladies gathered round a water gap. A misplaced plastic toy formed like a canine is “reincarnated” as a pet.

Regardless of the various tragedies within the state of affairs (each pure and man-made), Koozhangal doesn’t beg for our sympathies. The rat-catching household, the mom with the newborn, Velu —  we’re not invited to pity them. This can be a remarkably unsentimental movie. There’s even some “comedy” with a chunk of mirror Velu finds alongside the best way. (Once more, that is stunning filmmaking. The framing makes us assume the boy is drawn to a flower-bearing bush —  one of many few bursts of color on this parched panorama. However he’s really drawn to the mirror.) Solely on the very finish can we really feel a twinge. It’s a reinforcement of the drought within the area, and the visible looks like all of Thanneer Thanneer encapsulated in a matter of minutes. With Arun Karthick’s Nasir (which performed at Rotterdam final 12 months) and now Koozhangal, it might be secure to say that a rigorous artwork cinema custom has lastly arrived in Tamil cinema. 

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