Nerkonda Paarvai movie cast: Ajith, Shraddha Srinath, Abirami Venkatachalam, Andrea Tairang, Vidya Balan
Nerkonda Paarvai movie director: H Vinoth
Nerkonda Paarvai movie ratings: Two and a half stars
The Tamil remake of Pink has an original screenplay by H Vinoth, Shoojit Sircar, Ritesh Shah and Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury. So while it has many scenes which are almost exactly the same as in the Hindi version, there are some differences too. And that’s mostly down to the fact that Ajith, who plays Amitabh Bachchan’s part, is shown to be younger, fitter, and most importantly, as able to take on twenty ‘goondas’ as Bachchan used to, in his younger avatar. And that makes it a diluted film: one that needs to cater to Ajith’s fan base as much as desirous of shifting the gender role needle in mainstream Tamil cinema.
Pink broke new grounds in the way it raised the all-important question of consent, in a court-room drama. Three Delhi-based girls spend a harrowing evening with a bunch of well-connected, entitled young men, only to find themselves unfairly in the dock, and at the receiving end of false accusations. They aren’t molesters, the guys claim; it is the girls who were soliciting. The lawyer for the young men goes after the trio, casting aspersions on their ‘character’ and morals, and that’s when Bachchan, in a speech as thunderous as any he’s made in the past, comes up with that irrefutable one-liner, ‘no means no’.
There was a lot of chatter, post Pink, about hapless young women having to fall back on a male saviour. But to me Pink transcended that trope, and kick-started an important conversation in mainstream Bollywood. And out of it.
Nerkonda Paarvai (Direct Gaze), produced by Boney Kapoor, does the same, eventually, once it gets past the needless distraction built around the male star. Ajith’s stylishly grey-haired Bharath Subramaniam has a tender but entirely dispensable backstory in which he gets to romance his pretty wife (Balan), and lip-synch to a song while he’s at it. More space is taken up in two extended set-pieces in which he beats up a posse of baddies. He kicks, punches and bludgeons, and duly pulps the bad guys.
The girls, Meera (Srinath), Famitha (Venkatachalam) and Andrea (Tairang, reprising her role from Pink) are also weepier than the ones in the Hindi version. They wring their hands more, clearly to keep their ‘behaviour’ as ‘independent girls’ palatable. Still, for what it’s worth, there are some well-scored points about women being able to go out with men (gasp), have a drink or two (double gasp), and crack a ‘dirty joke’ or two, without them being considered ‘easy’ or fair game, strictly worthy of sexual assault.
A young unmarried woman admitting in public to not being a virgin, and not being pilloried for it, is major. Whatever the language, with or without a male saviour, this can never be a bad thing.