Aruvi Review - The road not taken!!!
It is not often that you would associate poetic and hard hitting with the same scenario. Aruvi is precisely that. There couldn't have been a better title for this film. Despite giving the impression of free flowing water, a mountain stream (aruvi) is largely influenced by its surroundings. The flow rate of the water and its direction depends on the gradient of the mountain and as such it would keep fluctuating along its path. So is the titular character Aruvi, whose life is largely shaped by the society around her.
Arun Prabu Purushothaman in his directorial debut shocks, surprises and has so much to say about a whole lot of things. He treats the film in a peculiar way, in a tone that we have hardly seen. The terrorist angle at the start ensures that we get interested and as we move to and fro in time we get to see episodes in Aruvi's life. These episodes literally run in fast forward mode and we are shown glimpses of Aruvi's life covering her childhood and teenage period. The camera is never stationary and a certain turbulence is omnipresent. What we have here are visuals that run as flashes. It is as though we are in the inside of Aruvi and are seeing important instances of her life that she is recollecting at the moment. The beauty here is that these instances are not out of the ordinary but everyday occurrences - childhood banter, teenage crush and her relationship with her father and brother. Topics that can be an entire stretch in films or even films in themselves are touched upon in these flashes – menstruation, bad touch by a teacher in the name of punishment and the normality of a transgender among other things. There are instances when the film takes a preachy mode but these are more like aberrations and not the genral tone of the film.
The film then gets to a territory where there is a little shift in the tone and this segment is treated with a more mainstream intent. The comedy is a little louder here but it is par for the course in relation to what is being shown. I initially felt this episode was more like a spoof but then soon realized that the reality of what was being spoofed at might actually be louder and more on your face. Discussing anything about the plot after this point would be a spoiler.
Aruvi does not attempt at offering simple solutions but keeps asking pertinent questions. The refreshing aspect here is that the film does not distance itself from the crowd and hold a high moral ground before asking these questions. It sort of understands that it is very much part of the system that it is holding a mirror at. The negative shades of people are shown but they aren't painted evil. When few characters in the film get a reprieve, another character remarks that 'God is not that rude'. But the irony of these words with respect to what happens in the film hits hard. Or is it Aruvi herself who is being referred to as God given that she is always willing to forgive ?
Aditi Balan is the soul of the film. She is able to be commanding and powerful at times and gentle and vulnerable when needed. This has got to be one of the most difficult roles in recent memory. It is so real whenever she breaks down and there is not an iota of fakeness in her performance. She remains with you long after you have left the theatres.
It is difficult to pin down your opinion about Aruvi in a single sentence. But take this for granted. It is nothing like you have seen recently on the Tamil screen.