Baaram movie review: Priya Krishnaswamy’s film is a shocking take on parricide
Director: Priya Krishnaswamy
Cast: R Raju, Stella Gobi and Sugumar Shanmugam
No recent Tamil film made me as uncomfortable as Priya Krishnaswamy’s national award-winning film Baaram, which shines the spotlight on the criminal practice of Thalaikoothal, otherwise referred to as parricide – the killing of a parent or other near relative. Through a docu-drama approach of storytelling, Priya brings to mainstream filmmaking a subject many would refrain from openly discussing, and she couldn’t have done a better job. In spite of making one quiver in their seat with its gut wrenching story which is inspired from a real incident, Baaram is a beautiful and relevant social film.
Watch the trailer of Baaram:
The film is centered on 65-year-old Karuppasamy, who lives with his sister and nephews Veera, Mani and Murugan. He is unconditionally loved by his sister (it’s so beautifully established the first time we see them both in the same frame) while his nephews have immense respect for him. One fateful morning, on his way back from work as a night watchman, Karuppasamy meets with an accident, severely damaging his hip. The events that lead to his mysterious death after being handed over to his son form the crux of Baaram, which leaves one with a heavy heart.
Baaram, which translates to burden, literally becomes one on the viewer by the end of the film. It raises some very important questions about the criminal practice of Thalaikoothal, which is still justified as a sacred ritual in many parts of southern Tamil Nadu. It puts the viewers in an ethical dilemma, forcing us to think about how we treat the elderly around us and in our homes. By mostly using close-up shots to create a sense of eeriness, Priya takes a voyeuristic approach in her narrative. It’s almost as though she doesn’t want us to take eyes off the screen, even as the experience could make you unimaginably uncomfortable.
As hard-hitting as it is on surface, Baaram has plenty of moments that’ll tug at your heartstrings. Somewhere, the film does turn into an awareness video and a lot happens on screen in a very quick span of time. The film is shocking, yes, but I wish it was more engrossing. Nevertheless, Baaram is a powerful film and one that doesn’t shy away from raising pertinent questions on a practice that’s been blindly followed for generations. Featuring nearly 85 first-time actors, Priya does a neat job extracting realistic performances from her actors. Raju plays Karuppasamy. His character is bed-ridden after the accident, and Raju brings out his pain without going over the top.
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