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Aruvi  ( UA ) (2017)  (Tamil)
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Aruvi Review

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Aruvi is a splendid 2 hour journey within a torn-down mind that battles to prove its innocence, thereby inferring the societal malaise at large.
3.2 out of 5 (Good) Aruvi NOWRUNNING REVIEW | Baranidharan Sivasankaran
Rating:  3.2/5
Nowrunning Critics: 3.2/5
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I first heard about this movie a couple of months back from a friend (who is a distributor) who happened to watch its preview. He asked me not to miss it. A little search on the movie threw some results regarding the cast, crew and the producer who has been busy doing promotions for the movie in the past year or so in the festival circuits. Since then, my eagerness only multiplied by the day.

A new crew with a new cast with the backing from a young and hungry producer could either result in one of the 2 things - an experiment that could go awry or something that is beautiful and pathbreaking! With "Aruvi" it is the latter!

The film opens with Aruvi (Aditi Balan) being interrogated by the police commissioner as she has been detained as a suspected terrorist. The backstory of who she actually is and what she underwent and what landed her at the hands of the cops as a terror suspect was narrated with some brilliant visuals and hard-hitting dialogues that would go down as one of the best in 2017.

A warm hug and a red carpet welcome to debutant director Arun Prabhu Purushothaman. This movie had a similar plot line that we've witnessed in the past in films like "Evano Oruvan" and "Unnaipol Oruvan" where the protagonist after being suppressed time and again by the bureaucratic society, goes on a rampage, vexed with the socio-political rhetorics. Incidentally both the movies could have inspired the director, not only with their plots but also with their male-centric title.

Aruvi, though can't be classified as a female-centric film, it certainly does root for the female gender that happens to bear the brunt, time and time again. It's up in arms with so many pertinent and contemporary issues that the government and political class are reluctant to talk about and slyly tuck them under the carpet, with the right to expression getting dearer by the day.

The movie not only pulls the collars of people who exploit destitute women, but also a section of media that believes in sensationalizing anything that sells, even if it means to sell the dignity of an individual, more specifically women who are already abused and subjected to the malaise. Aruvi just doesn't do it with a sly inference of a commercially-viable dialogue like "Ennamma Ippadi Panreengale ma", but with a more in-depth aspect of defining the detailed underpinnings of a reality show, "Solvathellam Sathiyam". The reference can't be more explicit than this.

Another aspect of the movie was the great narrative. It was exquisitely aided by cinematographer Shelley Calist and editor Raymond Derrick Crasta. Their combined prowess elevated the film to a more surreal level where the audiences are led to seek hidden meanings even in mundane dialogues.

I've been a witness to Shelley's prowess more than 4 years back when he made a short "Maane, Thene, Ponmane", which was a generic one on the outside but was elevated more with music and cinematography. Now with this one, I witnessed the beauty of his art on the big screen. I am waiting for more like this Shelley.

Music by the newbies Bindhu Malini and Vedanth Bharadwaj were very different. It was more like the protagonist's inner voice humming and voicing out her situation. Also, the director has skillfully woven the songs with the narrative without thrusting them in. The background score did the talking most of the time when there were no dialogues.

Finally, the cast and their performances. The casting director along with the director has to be lauded. Firstly, Aditi Balan as Aruvi was ecstatic to watch on screen. She was able to effortlessly bring forth Aruvi on screen with very subtle and measured expressions. That, I believe was more to do with her innate ability to be calm, timid and less spoken. I am sure she would be recognized and might walk away with a bag of awards in 2018!

The others including Aruvi's father, who was cast as an average middle-class man, who has the aspiration to lead a city life but has his values firmly rooted to his soil appeared only in a handful of scenes. He made the best use of the opportunity, thanks to his looks and the voice that supported it.

The transgender who acted as Aruvi's friend was another example of excellent casting. Lakshmi Gopalswamy as the reality show's host was the apt choice for a vixen like female representing the ugly face of the media. The reality show's director, his assistant, a businessman with the political connection, a self-styled guru and the young crony who assists at the studio by serving tea were all hidden gems who were identified and aptly cast.

A couple of complaints with the movie are the episode that happens in the studio post interval - it's more to do with its believability where a single woman taming a bunch of people with a gun and the run down towards the climax, which somewhat dragged and had a cinematic appeal. A more crispy and hard-hitting end would have been apt.

Like it's believed, the best always is saved for the last. As 2017 draws to a close, one of Kollywood's best has released for the year in terms of a path-breaking narrative that enthrals and makes one feel guilty at the sort of mundane life that one is subjected in the name of "social norms and lifestyle". Once again a big congrats to director Arun and producer SR Prabhu. Well done!!
Critic: Baranidharan Sivasankaran
 3.2 out of 5 (Good) 3.2 out of 5 (Good)  

WHAT THE RATINGS MEAN:
0.0 - 1.4 : Poor
1.5 - 1.7: Poor, A Few Good Parts
1.8 - 2.3: Average
2.4 - 2.9: Fairly Good
3.0 - 3.4: Good
3.5 - 5.0: Very Good

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