House Owner movie review: Moving story of unconditional love in the time of calamity
House Owner movie review: With her latest film, House Owner, Lakshmy Ramakrishnan weaves a heartfelt ode to unconditional love and it’s devastatingly beautiful.Updated: Jun 28, 2019 13:28 IST
Film: House Owner
Director: Lakshmy Ramakrishnan
Cast: Kishore, Sriranjani, Lovelyn Chandrasekhar and Kishore
Lakshmy Ramakrishnan is one among the few Tamil filmmakers who has truly evolved – both in style and storytelling — with each film she’s made so far and that’s one of the primary reasons why her films which may not have struck gold at the box-office but deserve to be celebrated. With House Owner, her latest film, Lakshmy weaves a heartfelt ode to unconditional love and it’s devastatingly beautiful. No other mainstream Tamil filmmaker – at least in recent years — has handled love as beautifully as Lakshmy in House Owner which unfolds against the backdrop of 2015 Chennai floods.
House Owner is centred around Radha and Vasudevan and we see them get married early on in the film. It’s a Brahmin wedding and the seriousness with which the rituals are performed is proof to the sanctity of marriage and its relevance even today. Cut to some 40 plus years later, we see the older version of Radha and Vasu and not much has changed between them except that Vasu (a retired army man) now has Alzheimer’s and it’s Radha’s responsibility (which she wholeheartedly accepts) to look after him. While she’s looking after him in their house, a calamity is in the making (2015 Chennai floods) outside and they have nowhere to go, simply because Vasu won’t step out of his house.
As we see Radha literally look after Vasu like he’s a child, we also see him have fleeting shots of memories of their past. Every time he comes across something in the house, say some object, there’s a flash of memory that reminds him of a special moment many years ago. This is when the story takes us back in time and introduces us to young Radha and Vasu. We see a young and shy Radha, who sees the world through her husband’s eyes. He teaches her English, to play carrom board and dance in front of his friends. He tells her to be herself when she asks if he regrets marrying someone who isn’t as smart as him. As the story shifts back to 2015, we see the roles are reversed and it’s now Radha looking after Vasu, trying to remind him that she’s his wife.
The idea of staying united gets magnificently conveyed in House Owner, which makes us realize the importance in the institute of marriage at a time when it is losing its significance. As we hear Radha repeat the same instruction over and over again to her husband, it does get slightly boring, but it is heartening to see Radha not give up because her love is unconditional. The film is a grave reminder of the bitter truth that life can get very lonely when we become old and the only person that matters the most is our spouse. As a young couple, we see Radha and Vasu surrounded by friends, family and relatives. But in the scenes featuring the older couple, we don’t see anyone else but only hear voices of family members through phones and of neighbours through the window.
Lakshmy Ramakrishnan continues to narrate stories from the perspective of women. This is the story of a couple seen through the eyes of the wife over two time periods. Radha is one of the strongest women you’ll ever come across as she not only looks after her husband but the entire house and it’s a lot of effort. Sriranjani, who plays the older Radha, is terrific as the wife who looks after her husband with undying love. Kishore plays Vasudevan, a role in which he doesn’t quite feel comfortable initially but shines eventually. Scenes between Sriranjani and Kishore show us that marriage takes a lot of effort, especially when you have a spouse like Vasu.
Watch House Owner trailer here:
The last 20-odd minutes of House Owner is devastating and the end leaves you with a lump in your throat. Lakshmy’s intention is not to give her story a sad ending but to remind us that no matter what happens to us, we should stick together. It’s the unconditional love for each other that keeps Radha and Vasu united, even though the latter has no memory of his wife. But Vasu knows he can’t be without Radha and he literally freaks out when she threatens to leave him and go in a scene.
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