One of the finest films I have ever seen, Paruthiveeran holds you spellbound by something that even the best of cinema lacks in general: how genuine it is. Interestingly, no film from the realist genre has seemed genuine to me, and yet here's a film simmering with violence, loud music and chunks of melodrama coming across as so real, so Indian, so Tamil - and so much a human story.
Even though every actor has acted remarkably well in the film and fits his or her part, the film would have been nothing had director Sultan not found the perfect locale to fit his story. Tamil films are often shot in paddy fields or in bustling metros with their squalid settlements, if not in some foreign location with gigantic steel and glass makedos signifying 'style'; a far remove from all that, the film is set in the almost-barren locales around Madurai, with perfect plains surrounding every human movement, easily discernable but also easily apt to be missed, for one can be dazed by so much heat, so much monotony and so much intensity to live.
Music also plays a key role in the film: the very opening sequence of the film sets the tone, with a marvellous introduction to that unique land that is Tamil Nadu. Set to pulsating beats and typically dirty lyrics, for which Indians have been fond of since time immemorial, a Hindu festival and an inevitably accompanying celebration and market introduce the viewer to a mind-boggling variety of senses: of all the five kinds. One won't even know when did the element of romance got introduced in the film, so integrally is it woven into the story, until how did it all start happens: in sepia and black-and-white. Priyamani's acting is faultless: her arrogance and yet her obsession for Paruthiveeran, her streak for indiscipline and yet her patience to everything that she suffers not only at the hands of the society but Veeran, are beautifully and expertly combined all together in one character.
Paruthiveeran is a story from India: with its heart. People who cannot appreciate stories and human lives as they are but rather must call themselves feminists and liberals would probably want to give a miss to it: for their reactions to a finely crafted story and film would range from shock and scorn to pity and sympathy, or, worse, to analysis. But those who can see the same human foibles and the same human greatness in every man and woman, who have learnt to recognise the universality of love, will be charmed by this comprehensive film, so true even in its melodrama, so gritty in its ability to see life in its eye.