Paradesi is a story of innocent villagers who were made bonded slaves at the tea estates during the British period. Bala (director) tries to tell us the sufferings through a protagonist Raasa (Atharva) and his people from Saalur village. They are taken in to bonded labour by Kangani (means Supervisor in Tamil) to a British owned Tea Estate at Meghamalai. The movie tries to portray the endless atrocities done to those people.
Inspired from a book titled Red Tea, it tells the story of enslaved plantation workers who experience atrocities in pre-Independence India.
Movie not totally based on Paul Harris Daniel’s Red Tea, Bala just taken the background story of the story and he added his own characters in his narration. Bala was too realistic in his approach but the commercial compromise he made were more in this one. Scenes like;
· * The characters in the film lavishly drink liquor, getting their daily food and time to romance and still they tend to take the job
· * In villages most of the people share a very good rapport, but in here people leave half dead guy and continue their journey without caring. Even one more scene where Adharva gets teased at wedding lunch. Serious is that all the relations are about in pre independence time?
· * Peddhaaya’s demise has a build-up but then what happens is left to audience’s imagination. Does anyone cared his body after marriage? Or His body left to rot in the hut?
· * A doctor was brought to battle unknown diseases, he preached Christianity to the people. There is no clarity on what for they were called for? As story moves immediately to 4 years later part.
· * Protagonist using conventional route to get out of the jungle and villains. Is it just for a matter of time director made him run in the dark in a regular route to get caught?
· * Why Antharva was first sent into Dhansikaa’s hut? Doesn’t he knew she has been staying there for a while and even training the new recruits at the estate?
Pardesi has loads of Technical positives in this film from what we have seen as a let-down in Bala’s previous attempt Vaadu Veedu. A national award winning director could have easily skipped songs from the movie. The songs don’t serve the full purpose, actually they were very disturbing in the second half. Does Bala think audience are not fully matured to watch a movie without songs?
First half of the film hunky-dory, Scenes like Vedhika and Adharva at Panchayath and another scene Adharva hitting Dandora hard after an insult by fellow villagers were superbly shot with Bala’s touch. Bala takes over much time establish characters at Soluru village in 1939. First half ends even before the characters were fully Established. The unity and script narration part are major drawbacks Bala should have taken care ofd. The script narration reminds us of parts of Apocolypto. Second half runs on preditable line with added realistic gore added to it. In the pre climax Christian missionaries episodes are hilarious, though people will partially agree with Bala’s missionaries angle. But Christianity scenes are dragged more than required. Chritmas song could have easily edited from the film. The debutant Art director C.S. Balachander created a perfect environment for pre independence scenes at Saluru village in 1939. The cinematography by Chezhiyan narrated the script in a ritualistic manner, thanks to the camera movements. Kishore T.E should be applauded for crisp editing.
Atharvaa Murali is simply outstanding, delivered a stellar performance right from the beginning to the end. Antharvaa is lucky to play the lead role at such a young stage of his career. Vedhika resembled yesteryear Srividya in few scenes. Vedhika delivered perfectly taking necessary inputs from the National Award winner Bala. Vedhika was not properly utilised after knowing she is pregnant. Dhanshikaa delivered a much maturated performance and it’s highly commendable. Debutants Udhay Karthik and Riythvika were supportive and natural in their roles. The rest of the support characters are perfect and dedicated in their roles from the beginning to the end.
Paradesi is completely unwatchable for light hearted and for ones who can’t stand sad moments for more than two hours. Paradesi is worth a watch for cinegoers to know the pain and sufferings of all those people without Independence. On the whole, Paradesi with stunning performances and commendable effort from Technical team, is just another Bala mark movie.
What is good: Performances, Art Work, Cinematography and Bala mark scenes
What Is Bad: Commercial compromises, Second half drags, Sudden end to the climax