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Mari Selvaraj On ‘Pariyerum Perumal’: “I Did Not See The Scenes As Just Scenes Because They Are My Pain”

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A meeting to review and analyse the impact of film Pariyerum Perumal was conducted by Meikaan Kalaingar Tamilsangam on Saturday in Chennai. The film, a drama based on casteism and caste politics, directed by debutant Mari Selvaraj, was released on October 5.

Directors Mari Selvaraj, Ameer, Bharathiraja, Ram, Gowthaman, Vetrimaaran and many others were present at the event. Talking about the film, director Gowthaman said “The film should be respected. This can be seen as an instrument to break the wall which separates the marginalized from the upper castes. In the film, there are few places where the characters use patience as a tool. But if patience was not exercised in those situations, the film might have taken a different turn.”

Thangam, a member of the Meikaan association said that the film is not only about caste politics, but also a different kind of cinema, a different kind of art. He said, “The film has spoken about the politics in caste. But it is not just an opinion piece to propagate ideas, there is more to it. It seems like a product of an intense art form. He (director Mari Selvaraj) has worked on different patterns through out the film, has not used a single success formula which is commonly used by most of the directors.”

Director Ram, who was long-time mentor to Mari Selvaraj spoke next, and said that he was doubtful about the title and its reach to audience. “When Mari first came and told me the title, I asked him whether the title will convey his story, I asked him if the audience will understand it. Because it is important to have a title which will convey the core of the story. He was so sure and confident about the title and said nothing else can convey the film’s plot more than that. And yes, he was correct!”

“Later we were wondering how the story will reach people, especially those who are unaware of caste and culture. But he got them to understand it through the dog – Karuppi. It’s very hard to not love animals, very few people who can not love animals, although there are many who do not love other humans,” he added.

Pariyerum Perumal Movie Stills Starring Kathir and Anandhi
Pariyerum Perumal Movie Stills Starring Kathir and Anandhi

While Vetrimaaran said that the film has reached a great height in Dalit cinema and Mari Selvaraj is the beginning of a new generation, a new movement, director Ameer countered his statement and said that there is no specific Dalit cinema or Literature, as everything comes under ‘Art’.

Saying that #MeToo movement is not for all, as the voice of the suppressed were not heard, he said “When everyone is talking about the celebrity #MeToo, has anyone spoke about Rajalakshmi? This is not meant to say, they lie. If something happened, if they faced any violence, yes we should stand and support them. But when Rajalakshmi’s murder is not addressed, it seems to me that even #MeToo gets covered based on class standards. So when you’re not going to address it now, then when are we going to talk about these deaths? Who will add Rajalakshmi’s voice in #MeToo?”

At this point, the event took a slightly more serious tone, but then came director Bharathiraja, who with his own style and trademark address Enn iniya tamil makkalae, lightened the mood. He said that he could not review the film as he has not reached that level of cinema. “We could see the pain of the community through Pariyan. I hate when people say something is Dalit literature or Dalit cinema. If there is colour for the sperm which struggles to enter the ovary, then I agree there are communities in the society. There is no community when it comes to cinema, we are all united by art and we are called artistes.”

“More than scripting, Mari has entertained us with very good visuals and shots in the film. We should appreciate him for making a film without mentioning the castes, and without hurting their sentiments. His song Naan Yaar? is more of an abstract idea, it is like a Picasso’s art. The end shot, oh god it is an absolute poetic version of his thought. When he sets the frame with a flower between two tea glasses, I told myself Bharathiraja, you’re nothing (Po da Bharathiraja).”

Talking about his experience in making the film, director Mari Selvaraj said, “Now after hearing that people talk about my shots, and hearing the excitement in their voices, I feel blessed. I have shot for 47 days and did not even take a single shot extra other than what is in the film. I was scared while taking every single shot. I was afraid that a situation might come up where the film goes to the censor, and they delete a scene. I was afraid of them removing a scene. Many doubted if the film will release. After every shot, everyone saw them as a single scene in the monitor, but I did not see the scenes as just scenes, because they are my pain.”

“Many asked me whether there was any politics involved as the film did not get enough screens at the time of release. No it is not like that. It is because we did not let people know what kind of film it is, until the day before its release. That was because I was scared that people might misunderstand the concept and stop it or create a mess. It was only later when I heard people saying they did not get tickets I believed that I made a good film, until then I was not confident about it,” he added.

Starring Kathir, Ananthi and Yogi Babu in lead roles, Pariyerum Perumal was produced by Kaala director Pa. Ranjith under the banner Neelam Productions. Music is composed by Santhosh Narayanan. The film has been selected for the International Film Festival Of India (IFFI), Goa.

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Also read: Silverscreen review of Pariyerum Perumal

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