‘Koozhangal’ movie review: A sensational debut from PS Vinothraj that is evocative, visceral and powerful

There has by no means been a Tamil movie that has captured the vastness of rural life in a extra austere, art-house style. PS Vinothraj is aware of what are all of the fundamentals of filmmaking that is missing, even within the works of celebrated filmmakers

(The evaluation comprises spoilers)

It is a large shot.

A man enters the body from the left and exits. He is strolling and the digital camera follows. He is nonetheless strolling and the digital camera is nonetheless monitoring him. The person involves a halt, as does the digital camera. We get a point-of-view shot of the person a sea of faces. A boy stands up dutifully — out of concern, not respect. They begin strolling and the digital camera proceeds. “Do you want your aatha or me?” the person asks. The boy doesn’t reply. They’re on their solution to carry again the wife-mother, who has left the house. They’re nonetheless strolling and the digital camera is nonetheless with them. We get a monitoring shot and a few extensive. We see faces, locations. We’re made to see faces, locations.

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By these two characters, we get a way of the vacancy of a drought-hit village. The silence is eerie and is damaged by ambient noises. We see the duty-bound ladies doing family chores, whereas the absence of males is noticeably felt. The boys are both taking part in playing cards, ingesting and chit-chatting or taking a nap. The ability construction is clear.

Discover how the digital camera adjustments its function. We get an extended shot — of the person borrowing cash from one of many gamblers for alcohol. The person is a drunkard. However this is not established by the director, however by the folks round him. In a while, the person’s home violence and the chilly relationship he shares with the in-laws are casually slipped in by two gossiping ladies, as they head to sandhai. Nothing is established by the director and every little thing is fed to us by the faces we meet inside and exterior the hamlets in Arittapatti.

The person walks and the boy follows, like a canine. They halt at a petty-shop and the person buys a ₹105 (quarter bottle). He takes a gulp and we get a point-of-view shot of the boy. The person lights up a bidi and takes a drag. Two extra. Three extra. The scene doesn’t reduce. The digital camera by no means actually cuts. He orders the son to go away his bag on the store. As they watch for the bus, the person and the boy take a look at both aspect of the highway, as if to indicate that they’re at crossroads.

It is a large shot. And it is implausible (scroll as much as see the lead picture).

This jaw-dropping opening sequence of Koozhangal (Pebbles) clearly alerts one factor: PS Vinothraj understands the functioning of cinema as a kind. He, maybe, is among the many tribe of filmmakers who imagine in exhibiting, moderately than telling. It is humorous that Koozhangal premiered at a pageant that additionally noticed one other movie on resistance. Landscapes of Resistance might have been a extra appropriate title for Vinothraj’s debut work. For, the individuals who inhabit these locations and whose lives and livelihood (I would favor the Tamil phrase vazhviyal) depend upon and circle round these landscapes, are the individuals who resist. They’re the on a regular basis folks you meet who let you know a sure story about their on a regular basis lives. Once more, this is proven and not informed.


  • Solid: Karutthadaiyaan and Chellapandi
  • Director: PS Vinothraj
  • Technical crew: Parthib and Vignesh Kumulai (Cinematography), Ganesh Siva (Modifying), Hari Prasad (Sound Design) and Yuvan Shankar Raja (Music)

Like the girl carrying three massive water pots on a bus to Ettimangalam. How far would she have travelled from her village to gather water, is not revealed. But it surely makes you assume since you take part. It makes you consider the on a regular basis mom who travels along with her child that begins wailing when a scuffle breaks out between our man and an on a regular basis man, when the previous smokes contained in the bus. It makes you assume due to the best way the digital camera zooms previous in-between the boys’s legs and freezes on the child, as if to convey that the scuffle has disrupted the child’s actuality.

It is an excessive lengthy shot.

The on a regular basis mom carries her child and walks. They’re on the far finish of the body, virtually showing like ants. However we nonetheless hear the child wailing from a distance; the sound engineer does a superb job. The digital camera captures the hollowness. We see the mom sitting beneath a sheltering tree, breastfeeding. It is a large shot. And it is the type of a pensive shot that has a painterly high quality.

Vinothraj wields the digital camera like a weapon; it is probably the most fascinating side of Koozhangal for those who consider the visible potentialities that they fight and obtain. However that is the factor, proper? Vinothraj understands what a grasp shot is, extra importantly, its goal. There is a gobsmacking unbroken shot that runs for about 12-Quarter-hour, if I keep in mind accurately. It wasn’t meant to point out that they might execute the sequence in a single take, however to construct the strain step by step so that you would really feel the uncooked power that comes out, when male ego will get bruised. Even the expletives exchanged carry a couple of sure temper, sure authenticity to the milieu. That occurs when a conflict breaks out between the person and his in-laws. You can virtually draw a map from the place the digital camera started to the place it ended, in an oscillatory movement.

He understands the visible affect a monitoring shot would generate on the display screen, if you place the digital camera close to the topic. He understands what a top-angle shot would do to an arid land. He is aware of when to shift the digital camera’s gaze. He understands the why of a large shot. He understands what sound design brings to the desk. He understands the impact the sound of a boy chewing on a pebble would produce. The bigger level being: he is aware of what are all of the fundamentals of filmmaking that is missing, even within the works of celebrated filmmakers. Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music, too, respects and enhances the filmmaking. My most favorite scene in Koozhangal arrives in a chase sequence, when the boy tears up the wad of notes to get again at his father. The boy runs and the person trudges his approach by means of (there is one thing trendy about the best way Karutthadaiyaan walks). When he finally catches up and begins to beat the son, the digital camera turns its gaze away from them — as if to avoid what to point out and what not.

There has by no means been a Tamil movie that has captured the vastness of rural life in a extra austere, art-house style. And there has by no means been a Tamil movie that has captured the passing away of time, like the best way Koozhangal does. We get to see the navigation of two extremes of the characters, as they stroll again within the scorching warmth. If their journey varieties the central plot, there is a parallel observe about probably the most oppressed household that survives on rats (try the quick movie Uraiyur Eli). A few of you may discover these scenes off-putting, however that appears to be the purpose. To make us really feel the discomfort by attempting to doc their vazhviyal. Vinothraj paperwork the acute of their desolate landscapes and empty water canals. He is very a lot making a political assertion by exhibiting, not by telling.

Each small element — landscapes, decaying timber, the Solar, a mattress of rocks, a damaged mirror and pebbles — are inherently a part of the movie’s bigger building that provides one other layer to the characters or helps in influencing their behaviour. Like when the person gazes at somebody, presumably a lady as a result of it is a POV shot, dropping his deal with the highway and hurting his foot.

Or when the boy’s faculty instructor catches them in the midst of their expedition and provides to take him on her bike, deserting the daddy who continues his laboriously infinite stroll. The boy waits and the daddy arrives. We come to know their names: Velu and Ganapathy (performed by Chellapandi and Karutthadaiyaan respectively).

Velu stands up dutifully, like within the first scene, and will get a slap. Ganapathy walks and Velu follows, like a canine. The cycle completes its arc. You are feeling stressed. You’re made to really feel stressed. From the title, we be taught that it is simply one other day for Velu.

Koozhangal had its world première on the Worldwide Movie Pageant Rotterdam, the place it is competing for the Tiger Award. Watch this area for extra on IFFR.


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