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CAST: Lakshmi Gopalaswamy,Sshivada,Aditi Balan,Shwetha Shekar,Mohammad Ali Baig,Kavitha Bharathi,Pradeep Antony,Mani Kutti,Anjali Varathan
DIRECTION: Arun Prabhu Purushothaman
GENRE: Drama,Thriller
DURATION: 2 hours 13 minutes

ARUVI SYNOPSIS: Twenty-four-year-old Aruvi is held by the cops for holding a TV studio under siege. Who is she and how did she end up in this situation?

ARUVI REVIEW: Aruvi is a superbly written drama centred around a unique character that unfolds as a thriller, a black comedy, an awareness movie, and a tragedy. The film is so effortlessly crowd-pleasing — and also tremendously moving. This is, by far, the most unconventional among the recent new-age films, with a bravura lead performance by Aditi Balan. It is certainly one of the most sparkling acting debuts Tamil cinema has seen in a while, and Aditi beautifully realises the complex nature of the character without trying hard to make her Aruvi endearing. Even in the final portions, when there are tragic tones, the actress doesn’t resort to melodrama and performs this role in a matter-of-fact manner.

The actress is ably guided by the direction of Arun Prabu Purushothaman, who joins the list of first-rate debutant directors we have got this year. If his writing displays a sensitivity that you don’t often see in a first-time filmmaker, there is flair in his filmmaking that gives this film a distinct new-age vibe.

The first time we see Aruvi, she is being interrogated by Shakeel (Mohammad Ali Baig), a cop in an anti-teorrism unit. Arun Prabu plays around with timeframes that makes this story feel experimental. He presents Aruvi’s backstories as vignettes — snatches of moments from her life that do not have a beginning or end (as we see in a conventional flashback), but still conveys the essence of what he wants us to learn about his lead character. The effect is quite similar to turning the pages of a flip-book.

We get how Aruvi, who has a loving family, gets thrown out of it – the why isn’t revealed then and the director wants us to form our own opinion so that he can shatter it later – and how she ends up in the company of Emily (Anjali Varathan), a transgender, and the people they encounter. It is when Aruvi decides to speak out on Solvadhellam Sathiyam, a reality show hosted by actress Shoba Parthasarathy (Lakshmi Gopalaswamy) that the film starts going in an unexpected direction, starting with a seige that leads to a poignant climax.

The director lets the siege play out almost in real time, even making us feel that this portion is being overstretched. But this compressing and expanding of time-frames actually helps keep the audience disconcerted and doesn’t let us anticipate what might happen next. The evocative songs and score by Bindu Malini and Vedanth Bharadwaj, Shelley Calist’s exquisite cinematography and Raymond Derrick Crystal’s precise editing amplify this feeling of watching something avant garde.

Ultimately, Aruvi is actually about how a filmmaker can present even an old-fashioned story in a brand-new way if he invests a little bit of thought. Arun Prabu Purushothaman shows how a “KS Ravikumar kaalthu kadhai” can be made into absorbing tale for the Karthik Subbaraj generation.

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