Sarpatta Parambarai Movie Review Rating: 4/5 Stars (Four stars)
Star Cast: Pa. Ranjith
Director: Arya, John Kokken, Kalaiyarasan, Dushara, Pasupathy and ensemble.
What’s Good: The runtime is almost 3 hours long, and not for a minute you feel the film is stretched or dragged. This in itself is the most significant victory. And, of course, Arya’s impeccable performance.
What’s Bad: Nothing that pulls down the energy. But there is a thing that could be done more profoundly. Will talk about that below.
Loo Break: it’s on OTT, pause when you go. If this were on the big screen, I wouldn’t have suggested you move even in the intermission.
Watch or Not?: WATCH! See what cinema is capable of. See how a sports drama is done. Or just entertain yourself as Arya punches every single obstacle his way.
Language: Tamil (with subtitles)
Available on: Amazon Prime Video
It is the 80s. In the North of Chennai, two clans, namely Idiyappa Parambarai and Sarpatta Parambarai are at loggerheads. Kabilan (Arya), a boxing enthusiast with a dark past with the sport, belongs to the latter clan and is kept away from boxing by his mother. When a challenge taken by his worshipped coach in the heat of the moment brings him to the ring, his life changes. What follows is his introduction to the world of being a popular boxer. The rise, the fall and the resurrection.
Sarpatta Parambarai Movie Review: Script Analysis
Last week I reviewed Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Farhan Akhtar starrer Toofaan. My complaint with the film was overcrowding in a runtime that was enough to move me if concentrated on limited points that hit the right chord. Guess who impressed and made me fall in love in that department?
Sports dramas in Indian cinema have a pattern and a ready template. What happens when the film breaks the mainstream approach, and talks about what takes a man to break shackles of society and become an athlete is Sarpatta Parambarai. Written by Pa Ranjith, the movie on the face of it is about a boy who always dreamt of becoming a boxer. But his mother’s hatred for the sport didn’t let him achieve it. But what Ranjith is actually addressing with his sports drama is a larger context that dominated the landscape back in time.
The era is the 70s. Indira Gandhi is the Prime Minister who has announced the Emergency, while Tamil Nadu wants a free state and don’t really want to obey Gandhi’s orders. Pa Ranjith writes his story with this conflict in the backdrop. We are introduced to a mill worker who gets excited like a child when he hears of a boxing match being held in his village. He runs, gets in without a ticket on influence, and we enter the ring with him. What follows is the unfolding of this character while he touches on the various aspects of his life.
Keeping his ambition to become a boxer in the centre, Ranjith layers Kabilan played by Arya like an onion almost. He is a man tied by a promise, but when let loose, he is a beast ready to destroy. But wait he is also a child, because his breakdowns are more childlike than an adult. But he is also a man child who is ready to flip the board when things aren’t going as per his plan.
The writer writes Kaliban taking a lot of time. What he does the best is invest almost half of his runtime in portraying what fuels his protagonist Kaliban. He comes from a marginalised community that is discriminated. His father, a boxer, was killed in front of his eyes. Some villagers don’t want his family to rise again. Top of all, poverty and class divide have devoid him of many things. So you see, here is a beast who has suffered all the things mentioned above. When in a ring, he is at the position of power, and he only has this moment to roar.
That doesn’t mean Sarpatta Parambarai is Kaliban’s whitewashing vanity project. Ranjith makes sure he shows what power does to this beast, who was till now a disciplined, borderline innocent man. He, of course, misuses it and soon sees a download fall. How he rises from this doom is the final act.
Sarpatta Parambarai is one of those films that is not designed to reach a conclusion. It is about its journey to it. Somewhere you know Kaliban wins in the end, but what it took from him to reach there is important. In my Toofaan review, I said how the writers ended up moving so fast that they did not give me any time to invest my emotions. Pa Ranjith’s directorial does full justice to that part. From Kaliban’s wife’s longing, to his mother’s pain, from his mother’s employer aka Daddy’s trust on him, to his coach’s hard love for him, I was with them in everything.
It is a complete universe sketched by a writer who understands the landscape and doesn’t shy away from addressing the ills of it. Be it men discussing politics and the uncertainty on a crossroad abusing the government, or villagers taking a normal boxing match so much to their heart that they pray for the opponents death literally.
Yes, a thing did bother. While the coming of age for Kaliban is amazingly portrayed, one critical stage where he actually grows up speeds up so much that it takes a while for you to get in sync again. I am talking about the jail sequence (you will know when you see).
Sarpatta Parambarai Movie Review: Star Performance
I only have good things to say about every single person that graces the screen in Sarpatta Parambarai. Arya at the helm of it is an actor who has proved his mettle with this film. I won’t be surprised if 20 filmmakers line up outside his residence with similar scripts the following day of release. He sees a change in body language, shape and physicality in all at least thrice in the movie and man! he makes sure you notice that. His emotions, punches and gags all land at the right point and time.
Let us now collectively thank new age Tamil filmmakers for giving women a voice in the mainstream and not just use them as a glamour quotient. Dushara as Maariyamma is a revelation. From the moment she enters she makes sure Arya’s broad frame, and his impeccable acting doesn’t let hers go unnoticed. What a treat it must have been to see them perform live.
John Vijay as Kevin is an instantly likeable character, and so is the strict coach played by Pasupathy. John Kokken gets to play one of the bad men, and he also plays the part to his total capacity. I said, I only have good things.
Sarpatta Parambarai Movie Review: Direction, Music
Pa Ranjith is a director who sticks to what he writes and is in no hurry to prove his point to the world. He chooses to cook his broth on a low flame, and that does wonders to Sarpatta Parambarai. He focuses on Kabilan’s catharsis more than the world around him. That, in turn, enhances the conversation he wants to keep in the backdrop. With the help of his DOP, Ranjith creates a universe that is era-appropriate and visually stunning. The set design to the costume to hair and make-up, everything authentic to its core.
Santhosh Narayanan’s music needless to say is perfect and appropriate to the movie. Neither a single beat less nor more. The romantic track between Arya and Dushara is happily groovy.
Sarpatta Parambarai Movie Review: The Last Word
When I say make films that speak to a section that is not really educated about its conflict, I mean make more of Sarpatta Parambarai. It is a film that not only talks about a sport, but the one who plays it, also about the landscape he lives in. There is so much to decode but also enough to dig your teeth into. You must watch and marvel at this one.
Sarpatta Parambarai Trailer
Sarpatta Parambara releases on 22nd July, 2021.
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