Natchathiram Nagargiradhu

Natchathiram Nagargiradhu

Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can’t understand it,” says Dr. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway) in that much-debated and equally celebrated line from Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. The urban Indian could grasp and deify this line 8 years ago but still has to be enlightened on the fact that love in our own country has another force to transcend – caste. It doesn’t come as a surprise that it’s Pa Ranjith who is undertaking this noble task at such a comprehensive level.

Natchathiram Nagargiradhu is a prominent departure from Ranjith’s oeuvre which usually tends to get behind a single protagonist. It’s more about a “collective” that’s working toward a singular goal. This sense of a collective has always been felt in Ranjith’s films, with his strong focus on community. But here, it’s by design, since it’s centered around a troupe. The subsequent rule-breaking of following characters as individuals comes with so much intent, that it’s easy to overlook this and get behind the film for what it’s trying to accomplish. There are attempts at giving the secondary characters their own conflicts, but those not all of those images register well enough for us to feel for them.

The film also reminded me of last year’s Drive My Car, only for the similar behaviour of marrying literature, theatre and film language to get pensive. But this is a far more charged film, for its loaded assertions against the status quo. It shows us the splendid beauty of tea estates and asks us to think about the history of oppression beneath that soil. It’s both – a call to keep resisting in our day-to-day, and a rumination one can ponder about while star-gazing. The queer representation is only a start, and that an appropriate gaze has been presented, we hope our cinema adopts it with the same responsibility. Eventually, Pa Ranjith’s heart trumps some of his overreaching narrative experiments. This feeling of a “heart” is not easy to come across in the Tamil cinema of today, so let’s validate it while we can.

Full review up here:


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