In the mood for love

peranmpuAn honest manifesto of compassion and human bonding, Peranbu is a bliss to watch, and it is inarguably one of the best performances from Mammootty in recent times

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” Director Ram’s fourth movie Peranbu could easily remind one this beautiful quote from the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:4). Such is the dexterity with which the Tamil filmmaker has treated the Mammootty film which tries to map the physical and emotional complexities of an adolescent girl with cerebral palsy and the struggles of her father, and their eventual trysts with compassion and love.

Amudhavan (Mammootty) has not been a caring husband or father. His wife has left him and their 14 -year-old daughter Papa for another man. Papa is spastic and the kid despises him. For a moment one would fear if it would be the same old trope where the kid warms up to the father at the end of emotionally overwhelming sequences, turbulent turn of events and incessant lectures about love and sacrifice. But Peranbu doesn’t fall into that trap. It has a brutally honest manifesto. People cheat, but at times out of desperation. People leave, but not always for lust. People desire to fly, despite not having the wings. People have stories and they deserve more than being judged — Peranbu tells us. The movie boldly breaks quite a few stereotypes, touches some not-so-comfortable topics, delivers a few shockers and refrains from being judgy all along.

In one such scenes, just when the ice between the father and daughter starts melting, Papa gets her periods. Now the movie not just attempts to talk about a taboo topic, but dares to venture further by showing Amudhavan helping his daughter change her sanitary pads. “Only nature knows man and woman, not love,” says the father’s monologue in one of the most beautiful moments of the movie.

Framing nature

Ask the director about Peranbu and he might say it’s a movie about nature. In an interview given to Scroll.in Ram said, “I wanted to make a simple film about nature and how nature is interpreted. I then tried to find my particular truth in it… Nature has made everyone different and everyone has a disability in one way or the other. The world is not made of beautiful things.”

Take a closer look and Papa is not just Amudhavan’s daughter, but also a manifestation of nature itself — excited, moody, amazing, dangerous and a lot more of such unpredictable contradictions. Every time Amudhavan starts to relax, nature decides to crank it up by a notch or two. Like just when he thought he had learned to handle Papa’s menstrual needs, he finds himself on the backfoot once again. As Papa grows, her sexual needs grow too, leaving Amudhavan listless. The movie doesn’t hesitate to throw in some shockers here, but again Peranbu treads carefully making sure it stays realistic and that emotions do not spill over.

It is a pleasure to watch how all major characters have been fleshed out quite well, including the transwoman who is a sex worker. She has a family, she has feelings. She is not just flesh, but she craves for and is capable of love.

Mammootty as Amudhavan, Anjali Ameer as Meera, Sadhana as Papa and Anjali as Vijayalakshmi have done their parts quite well ensuring that they delivered just what the story needed, not more, not less. After a series of super human roles it is quite refreshing to see Mammootty taking a up a character and a story to which he could do full justice. He must find more such roles, instead of the larger than life, soulless characters he’s been donning for a while now.

The script makes sure the story moves along in the right pace. The first half, although would seem like a drag initially, sets the ground for things to pick up in the second half. The only seemingly low point in the movie is that the director has chosen the cliched ‘novel writing’ format for story narration, but a pardonable one considering the larger scheme of things.

In short Peranbu is a bliss to watch. Without soul-stirring dialogues or tear inducing scenes it tugs at our hearts whispering in our ears — let compassion prevail.

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