Films go beyond just a mere form of entertainment to a way of being for most people. But does every movie need to have an action sequence, a damsel in distress, a hero who saves the day and a cringy item song to hold a place in our hearts? I don’t think so. Here is a list of eight Tamil films of 2019 that weren’t commercial hits but definitely deserved much more attention than it had received.
Peranbu - Ram
I was stunned at the depth of this film and wondered why it wasn’t spoken about as much. Peranbu revolves around a father-daughter relationship that is beautifully compared metaphorically with nature. It begins with how nature is very strange associating it to the behaviour of his daughter who suffers from cerebral palsy making it difficult for him to understand her . As his relationship with his daughter keeps improving so does the emotion towards nature in chapter wise segmentation of the film . The film is a delight for the audience that loves movies as well as audiences that love cinema. Director Ram often makes his stories about a thesis and addresses a lot of issues that are often chosen to be kept under the covers. For instance, this film speaks about a father trying to understand his physically challenged child’s sexual needs that is portrayed in a very direct manner without making it too cringy. Things like this aren’t even spoken about as much, let alone portrayed in a film. Peranbu is also considered to be a part of Ram’s globalisation trilogy that speaks about his anger towards societal conditioning using small taunts throughout the film. Peranbu is a highly recommended watch and is streaming on Prime Video in Tamil and Malayalam.
To Let - Chezhiyan
Tolet is one of those films that I’d like to call a happy sad film. They have taken a very simple plotline and converted it into a beautiful visual story. To Let focuses on the difficulties of house hunting by emphasizing on emotions between the characters rather than the story itself. The film is a good watch as it doesn’t stretch the story despite having the potential for multiple further subplots. The characters in the film are so relatable that the slow pace of the film wouldn’t bore the audience. Anyone who has gone in search of a house will definitely be able to relate to the movie despite their financial or economical background cause the director very subtly puts across how universal this problem is. Director Chezhiyan handled the cinematography of the film as well, thus making it easier to understand what he was trying to convey to the audience. To Let also shows a lower middle class life in a manner that doesn’t glorify it and yet makes it look beautiful. Everything from the characters to the unexpected climax would leave an impact on us. A sort of an aftertaste that we’d like to remember. Tolet is streaming on Prime Video.
Uriyadi 2 - Vijay Kumar
Mostly a myth and partially a fact, it wouldn’t be completely wrong to say that sequels often end up being disastrous. However, Uriyadi 2 doesn’t adhere to this. Although like plenty other sequels it isn’t connected to the first film, the director has tried to retain some elements of connection between the films. Both the films talk about a social issue and runs on the tension that develops between the characters. Although the film gets a little preachy about the social cause and takes awhile to establish the characters and set the tone, it remains relatable and resumes into a tight screenplay. Especially during the interval scene where very unexpectedly a small chase leads into something much bigger. This concept of an incident leading to a bigger incident retains the thrill just like the first film and yet it didn’t get the recognition it deserved. Uriyadi 2 is streaming on Netflix.
Mehandi Circus - Raju Saravanan
This film also embarked the Kollywood debut of the wonderful actress Swetha Tripathi. The film itself is set in the 90s and is a poetic love story between a circus artist and a girl from a small town. It focuses on their journey and the difficulties they face in order to pursue this love. The plotline and characters are so innocent and breezy that it’d make us dwell in nostalgia, a vibe similar to 96. Raju Murugan did a great job with his impactful yet simple dialogues that exemplifies the mood along with the light hearted jolly music by Sean Roldon. The pacing of the film could've been better but it’d still pull of as one of the best Tamil romantic films released so far in 2019.
Vellai Pookal - Ramgopal Krishnaraju
This film needs a special mention just for adressing a topic like child abuse that isn’t spoken about as much. Made by a bunch of passionate film admirers amidst their day job, It has a particularly strong storyline i.e decently executed. Although it didn’t work too well for me to see Vivek plays the role of a serious protagonist, I’d really like to admire how he carried the weight of the entire film through his character’s shoulders. The plotline was pretty decently executed to properly lead to the climax. Although the film had more scope to be made better, it could have still received more recognition for the message it was trying to spread. Vellai Pookal is now streaming on Prime Video.
K - 13 - Barath Neelakantan
The pattern has been such that if you know Arulnithi is doing a film then there has to be something special to it. The entire film majorly is set within one space except for small . Despite this, the screenplay is so well written that it’ll keep you glued from the first frame till the very end. It is that very end, an unnecessary twist that didn’t retaliate as expected with the audience leading to a disappointing response for the film. The starting frame is that of the protagonist tied up to a chair. The story then goes on to reveal how he ends up there in that situation. The film is a neatly packed mystery - thriller that definitely deserves a watch without any expectations of the big reveal towards the end.
House Owner - Lakshmy Ramakrishnan
This film shifts between two genres and yet delivers the mood of both genres very well. It is a non linear narrative of the past and present of an old couple. While the past speaks about nostalgia and their old school romance, leaving a warm feeling, the present is a more tight situation where the couple is stuck in their house during the floods with the man suffering from alzheimers. So while they are trying to cope up with old age they also simultaneously have to escape the flood situation. This adds an element of drama and will keep you at the edge of the seat. The characters are so relatable cause of their backstory that you’d want them to escape probably more than they themselves would. House owner is definitely worth a watch if not for its brilliant story then for the technical execution that’ll have you feel like you are living in the characters’ shoes throughout the film.
Jiivi - V J Gopinath
I came across this whole idea for the listicle after stumbling upon this film called Jiivi. Jiivi is a rare mystery film that has no element of murder, bloodshed or violence and yet would showcase a small jewellery theft with the same intensity.Yet the film doesn’t restrict itself to being only about the theft! It speaks about the circle of life and how everything comes around, in the most non-cliche manner possible. Jiivi’s dialogues need a special mention for how crisp and yet impactful they are. The story at no point would get confusing despite having so many elements. It sticks on to the main plot while including theories that can escalate it to a larger sense. Like the first frame is brought back during the last frame as well leaving it open to several interpretations within the theory itself. I’d personally vouch for everyone reading this to watch the film as it definitely wouldn’t disappoint.