Peranbu makes it worthwhile. It asks you to sit down, consider it, watch it in full measure and at its own pace. It is not a demand, it is a request and when you do accede, it makes it all worthwhile.
A tale of love and redemption, Peranbu tells the story of a father and daughter, growing to like each other. Love each other. Accept each other. But there are no cutesy moments. There are no great big speeches or declarations of love, no major flourishes with accompanying music that tells us how to feel what we ought to feel. It is a romance also, of a man and woman falling in love, marrying each other after many failed attempts at finding love.
Peranbu is written by Ram, and co-directed by Ram, Anjana Krishnakumar, and Amudhavan Karupaiah. It stars Anjali Ameer, Sadhana, Mammootty, Anjali, and others, and features music by Yuvan Shankar Raja. The film was shot by Theni Easwar, and edited by Sreekar Prasad. Peranbu is produced by Pl Thenappan.
The film did the rounds of film festivals for over a year, winning all kinds of praise and acclaim. It finally released in theatres today.
Amuthavan (Mammootty) is a taxi driver and the primary caregiver for his disabled daughter – Pappa (Sadhana). He needs to come to terms with the fact that his daughter is growing up and is no longer the little girl he thinks she is. He also has to come to terms that his wife – who deserted the two of them and found love elsewhere – isn’t an evil being but just someone who wanted to be loved. And he has to figure out where he himself will find love and company.
We first see Amuthavan and Pappa approaching a remote house on the banks of a lake in Kodaikanal. Cut off from human contact, the house doesn’t even have electricity. Amuthavan believes this house will “cure” his daughter, make her like him. They also move here because the city and his own mother will not have him: reason is Pappa. And we also learn that his wife has left him for another man. And so, this house in Kodaikanal.
But the local land mafia wants this house, to turn it into a resort.
They make an offer, they beat him up, but he stands his ground. Here in the house, Amuthavan slowly builds a relationship with Pappa. Very slowly. Partly aided by nature, a horse named Nailpolish, and a little bird trapped in the house which Amuthavan helps free.
He first realises his girl is no longer his baby, one night, when he spots blood on the mattress. She’s menstruating. He looks for a woman who can help, and does find one, but she leaves almost immediately. And so Amuthavan becomes mother and father to the girl. Just as he gets used to the idea, a woman called Vijayalakshmi (Anjali) enters his life. She tells him that she has no one and nowhere to go to, and will work for food and a place to stay. Pappa too takes an instant liking to Vijayalakshmi – because her nail-polish.
It also appears Vijayalakshmi likes Amuthavan, and sure enough, the two of them become lovers, and then marry each other.
But there is an ulterior reason: we soon find that Vijayalakshmi and her husband Babu are agents of the land mafia and have engineered circumstances in such a way that Amuthavan has to hand over the house to the mafia or be charged with sexual assault of Vijayalakshmi.
And so the two of them move back to Chennai, and into a small lodge. Here, Pappa is locked indoors while Amuthavan tries to find a job, a house, a life. And behind doors, Pappa grows up further. Circumstances force Amuthavan to put Pappa in a shelter for disabled children, and he meets trans woman sex worker Meera (Anjali Ameer). Things get bleaker for him: he finds Pappa having thoughts of sex and love, and that he doesn’t know how to help her. He’s also driven to exhaustion, causing a road accident.
And so, he decides to take the easy way out and take both his own and Pappa’s life. They walk into the sea. But just in time, Meera spots them, rescues them.
Stars: Mammootty, Sadhana, Anjali
In Theaters: Jan 31, 2019 Limited
Runtime: 147 minutes
Studio: World Wide Films
CRITIC REVIEWS FOR PERANBU (MALAYALAM)
Peranbu features a transwoman (Anjali Ameer) in a pivotal role. It’s heartening to see that the film doesn’t make a mockery of her character.
With his superbly nuanced portrayal, Mammootty puts across the sheer helplessness of Amudhavan. In a role that could have easily become a caricature, Sadhana strikes a fine balance…
Ram’s films have always displayed love for his protagonists. In Peranbu, we sense much love for the medium, too.