Parking – This major tussle over a minor issue, is a worthy outing!
In Ramkumar Balakrishnan’s Parking, two seemingly decent men let all hell break loose over a seemingly non-issue. Set in a neighborhood in Chennai, Parking does bear similarities to Malayalam film’s Ayyapanum Koshiyum and Driving Licence. These two films too were about two grown up men having a go at each other, oblivious to the havoc it causes to those around them. In Parking, the tussle is between the elderly Ilamparuthi (M.S.Bhaskar) and a much younger Eshwar (Harish Kalyan). They are similar in certain ways. They both are middle class. But they are also different in certain ways, which includes their age. Ilamparuthi is a government servant. His life is more about savings than spendings. He would rather spend all day repairing an old mixie, instead of buying a new one. Eshwar is an IT employee. A minor inconvenience to his wife is all that is needed for him to purchase a new car.
The first half of Parking sails through seamlessly. The characters are introduced and slowly the equations between them gets messy. It all starts with a minor spark but before they realize, emotions escalate rapidly, and we have two raging volcanoes having a go at each other. This description might seem like an action scene between two deadly characters from a Lokesh film. But here, it is a mild-mannered Harish Kalyan and a sober looking M.S. Bhaskar that we are talking about. That is what makes Parking, stand aloof from what gets made regularly in Tamil cinema. The incidents leading to the animosity between the two characters are nicely done. The issue is very real. The equations are believable and the scenes realistic. So, when these two are having a go at each other, as much as we can laugh at the absurdity of it all, we also can understand and relate to the emotions of these two men. Seen through their eyes, you get it as to why they behave the way they do. None of it feels contrived or thrust in to create tension.
The second half too remains engaging all through. But the film now operates in what is almost ‘a thriller zone’. If everything was believable in the initial half, the second half requires some suspension of disbelief. It is not as though someone is punching down 100 men, but some of the actions of the two lead characters seem a bit far-fetched. It is not that they cannot do the things they end up doing, but some of it does feel ‘exaggerated’. You get the hate the two characters have for each other and how they can go to any extent to prove a point. You also get the things they end up doing in a fit of rage. But some of the things they do when there has been time to calm down, does feel far-fetched. It is not even about them not being so bad that they won’t do those things. But how would they do the things they do towards the end of the film, knowing very well they cannot even get away from the repercussions? The believability of the first half is not matched here. But that said, the film remains engaging all through and never loses its grip on us.
M.S . Bhaskar is terrific. He doesn’t play a pleasant man. But he makes sure that we always empathize with him. This is a very precarious zone to play for an actor. He needs to make us hate the character and his actions. But he also needs to make sure that we are able to relate to his emotions. Harish Kalyan does his part well.
This battle of egos makes for some compelling viewing and is aided by good performances. The seamlessness and believability of the initial half is compromised to create tension in the later half. But definitely a worthy outing.