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Here’s Why Peranbu Leaves Me Underwhelmed & Depressed

The new Tamil   Mammootty starrer Peranbu  which opened  on February  1 and which has been described variously  by critics as a masterpiece and  a life-changing  experience, left me wishing it was both  but is actually neither a masterpiece  nor  a life-changing  experience,  for, the life that it offers to those who are born less equal than others, is not acceptable to  any  person with  even a shred of sensitivity or self-regard.

Peranbu which means ‘Resurrection’ in Tamil  is not  so much about resurrection as mortality, the slowdeath  that we  die every day as  life drags us down to levels we are  not willing or even able to accept.It is about a spastic  girl Paapa’s growing-up years with her single parent , her  Papa Amudhavan played by Mammootty.

I am not  going to  savage the  performance  of the girl playing the  spastic  character. Let’s just say she’s  even more annoying than Anushka Sharma in Zero.

Now, Mammootty  is an actor of reformative abilities.  He  can  change  in front  of  our eyes from a boorish uncouth  misogynistic cop in Kasaba  to a loving though  disturbingly distant  father  in this film.

Really ,more than  a tremulous  ode to the father-daughter  relationship Peranbu is  a hat-tipping counter- homage to the patriarchal  domination of  the South Indian  industry where  the male heroes can get away with any kind of violence against women , from getting them kidnapped and molested to referring to their menstrual cycle in a  less than respectful manner on screen(ref:  Kasaba).

 Mammootty as the empathetic  father in Peranbu is so  sensitive to the girl’s anatomy and its changes that she  cannot comprehend,  it’s almost like he’s exchanging places with his disabled daughter  to  feel her pain. He gently  feeds her, makes faces  to humour her(all in one long-shot displaying the transformative  superstar-actor’s bravura talent) , cleans a dirty bathroom with his own hands so she could use it, and buys and  applies the sanitary napkin when she has her periods.

Kamal Haasan in Sadma couldn’t have done  more  for Sridevi.

Jesus  Christ, this is  not a man. He is an angel in disguise. To his credit Mammootty  manages to manoeuvre  his cornily  saintly  character  into the hemisphere  of the human. But  I still got the feeling that this  was a superstar  trying to muster all the sensitivity that  he can towards  the  female sex.

Peranbu is  like one  tall order  picked from a posh menu to placate  the universal appetite for posh pacification. Mammootty shines in every  frame, as  only the most skilled cinematography(Thani Eashwar) can make him. His eyes convey aeons of  pain and resignation. It ‘s  the look of a man who has come to terms with his immovable destiny of doom.

There are no enduring glimmers  of  hope in Amudhavan’s  life. His wife has  left him to let him look after their  spastic daughter who is quite  a handful. She is  whiny  demanding and unreasonable. And when she  attains puberty she  begins to ogle at  boys on television and  from her window. It doesn’t take Paapa’s papa  long to figure out what  Beti wants…So  he goes looking for  a suitable  male sex worker…

Wait, there  is  more of this.All progressively  non-progressive self-annihilative  methods of  punishing oneself for fathering  a damaged   child. The  film suggests that atonement  in such a circumstance  can be had  by subjecting the patriarch to almost three  hours of  humourless parenting,  punctuated  by bouts of  preposterous self-flagellation.

I came  away from Peranbu  feeling ravaged and  guilty . This joyless humourless sunless ode to fatherly self-punishment is   like  a lengthy interrogation  at a police station where a man is questioned and tortured for  a crime he  never committed until he  finally accepts his  guilt just to escape the torture. It is a  punishing  disengaging film that forgets cinema is supposed to serve one other vital function apart from rumination.

Entertainment. A component  tragically  missing  in this film that serves as a  serious unwitting campaign for institutes  for disabled children .Or  how about just protected sex?

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