Aruvi: Raw, Bold and Truly Beautiful
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Aruvi is a film driven by raw, exposed emotions. It is easily one of the best films of 2017. Why? Because it’s honesty and clarity is like no other. The one hundred and thirty minutes you spend investing in the title character, Aruvi’s journey will make you laugh and cry. Most of all, it will make you think for days to come. Through his very first film, director Arun Prabhu Purushothaman takes his place as a key Indian filmmaker to watch out for.
The film is about Aruvi’s life. Staying true to her name, Aruvi (Waterfalls) is a wild, rebellious and free-willed young girl. The universe isn’t kind to her, but she doesn’t dwell in self-pity. Instead she lives each day to the fullest potential and grabs a permanent place in your heart with her no-nonsense attitude. Making the most of two hours, Director Arun takes you through the highs and lows of her life. By the end of it all, you are bound to find a permanent place for her story in your heart.
It is delightful to observe the kind of control Director Arun Prabhu Purushothaman has over his content. He makes you think and observe only what he wants you to. For example, if the society believes Aruvi is at fault, he lets you believe the same. But at the right moment, he places his character’s side of the story, slowly bringing you attune to the Aruvi’s state of mind. The decision to reveal only what he must and let the other details unravel at their own pace is quite bold. It only demonstrates the director’s confidence and clarity.
The issue Aruvi raises is quite heavy. But the beauty of the film lies in the way it deals with a heavy subject such as HIV in a sensitive yet light hearted manner. Not one scene in the film is melodramatic. It explores the issue at hand without ever becoming preachy.
Director Arun has treated Aruvi’s story in an interesting pattern that follows the key rules of film grammar while also breaking a few unnecessary conventions. For instance, the first half is full of scenelets. The narrative running through these scenelets never tried to spoon feed you. They simply give you a glimpse of the character’s life and leave you to make your interpretations.
You can’t help but admire the director’s objectivity in presenting the film. Till the end, he never picks sides. He never favours a particular character. He also never tells you what is right and what is wrong. He leaves it open to your perception.
In a way, the experience of watching Aruvi will prove to be cathartic. In some way, the film will break into your heart and release you from the painful experiences of your life. It will lead you to recollect your experiences and relate them to Aruvi’s pain.
One of the best scenes in the film is Aruvi’s second monologue. *Spoiler alert* She sits inside a hut and records a video of herself to send one last message to the ones she loves. In that scene, all those little things she feels guilty about is exposed. She confesses to her father that she was always the one nagging her brother. She tells her best friend Emily that she never once reciprocated her care and affection full fledgedly. The rawness of this scene is bound to make you cry. The realism with which it is filmed is astounding.
If you have to nit-pick, the one thing many people might find a bit too dramatic in the film is the climax. The second re-union might feel people pleasing and dramatic. But in a way, it is justified since the feeling of hope and reassurance is hard to come by with such a tale.
To say Aditi Balan was brilliant as Aruvi is an understatement. Balan has Aruvi running in her veins. She gets into her character’s shoes quite methodically and effortlessly. It is hard to imagine Aruvi without Balan to play her. She has two impactful monologues in the film and she performs both with such conviction. In her final monologue, Balan brings into the picture, raw and exposed emotions that seep into your heart and move you. Every time she expresses Aruvi’s pain, it is a silent cry and yet never dramatic. In this way, Balan continually surprises you by demonstrating the kind of flair that one can only observe in seasoned actors.
The supporting actors deliver memorable performances as well. As Aruvi’s best friend, Anjali Varadhan is bold and gritty. Playing a popular television host, Lakshmi Gopalaswami makes you laugh with her spontaneity and comical body language. The actors who play Subhash and Peter especially move your heart with their honest portrayals.
Cinematography and Editing act as the backbone of Aruvi. The cinematography records Aruvi’s transformation in a stirring yet subtle manner. Cinematographer Shelley Calist’s visualscape also acts as a reflection of Aruvi’s state of mind, leaving us pleasantly surprised at its innovative tendencies. Raymond Derrick Crasta’s editing is a class apart. It is always in line with Aruvi’s personality, rebellious, aggressive and yet warm hearted.
Aruvi is accompanied by subdued music. Together, Bindu Malini and Vedanth Bharadwaj deliver subtle yet experimental tunes that act as the perfect undertone this film demands.
On the whole, Aruvi is a sculpted masterpiece. By channeling the creator inside him, Director Arun patiently etches this powerful film frame by frame, leaving us truly touched.