Iravin Nizhal review: Parthiban's film is a technical masterpiece
When we are presented with the film's making in the first half in which the team faces minor hurdles in the filmmaking process, we realise the humungous effort that the director R Parthiban and his unit have put into what's touted to be the 'World's first non-linear single-shot film'.
Director: R Parthiban
Cast: Radhakrishnan Parthiban, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Robo Shankar, Brigida Saga, Chandru, Anandha Krishnan, Sneha Kumar and Sai Priyanka Ruth
Music: AR Rahman
Cinematographer: Arthur A Wilson
Synopsis: A man on the run looks back on his crime-filled life, the people who shaped it up, his sins, and his one last hope at redemption
Who would have thought that a film like 'Iravin Nizhal'-- made and marketed as 'World's first non-linear single-shot film' would be owned by Tamil cinema and that too by the National award filmmaker like Radhakrishnan Parthiban, who makes it a point to present something unique since from his directorial debut 'Puthiya Pathai' to his recent 'Oththa Seruppu Size 7'.
Iravin Nizhal is another out-of-the-box film from R Parthiban's kitty. It is what Rope by Alfred Hitchcock was for Hollywood, but 'Iravin Nizhal' is much more than that, as it is a single-shot and a non-linear film. Screening the making before the film is praise-worthy as it shows us the tears, sweat, and effort put by the film unit into making this 96-minute-long uncut single-shot film. The inventiveness put into the sets and the sheer heartbreak when a minor mistake occurs in a scene or when they finally get it right in the 23rd take -- all are so inspiring and encouraging.
Coming to the story of Iravin Nizhal, R Parthiban plays middle-aged film financier Nandhu, who gets caught up in the cruel world of hate and crime. He goes back to the dilapidated ashram that rekindles his memories from being an innocent orphaned child to him realizing the mistakes of his life. He reminisces those who have made his life sink into darkness and be sinful. The film captures the six stages of a person in grief -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance leads to redemption and deals with similar themes such as drug addiction, social abuse, relationships, women's curse, loan sharks, and fake godmans and womens.
Parthiban plays a familiar character to Oththa Seruppu, but in a different shade. Nandhu's life is filled with a lot of dark past that even affects his daughter, who is afraid of darkness. In a superbly staged scene in a dim-lit room, we see her daughter in Nandhu's chest and he is trying to shove away the darkness which affected him -- an invisible soul he imagines to be real, perhaps another version of Nandhu who is evil-minded and made him do these sinful acts.
Some things about what Nandhu did are told through voice-overs sounding like satan and some are choreographed like song sequences. Women in his life - Lakshmi (Sneha Kumar), Chilakamma (Brigida Saga), Parvathi (Sai Priyanka Ruth), and Premakumari (Varalaxmi Sarathkumar), shape his worldly view both positively and negatively.
All the actors truly give in to the vibe of the film, even Arthur Wilson's Sony Venice camera which sometimes lets the scenes breathe through and sometimes takes dutch angles, moves quickly like Nandhu's character arc. On the other hand, it also makes it hard for us to relate to the character, and attach to his emotions as his life gets narrated so quickly that it's hard for us to fill in his shoes. It would have been better if the narration and the camera slowed down for the screen to affect us cause sometimes it feels like the film is only keen on moving to the next scene through transitions rather than letting us absorb those emotions.
Nevertheless, the performance of the cast makes it work, especially debutant actor Chandru who plays the adolescent version of Nandhu really shines in this film and puts forth a brilliant performance and R Parthiban and actress Brigida Saga do portray their roles to its perfection. Parthiban had previously opened up to us that Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria (2015) inspired him and that is very evident in this film. The scene transitions work big-time for this film which shifts periods and the Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman's exceptional score and songs add to the mood of the film.
Iravin Nizhal too comes with its flaws like its protagonist Nandhu but is an impressive experiment with technical mastery and unconventional storytelling from a filmmaker who always wants to give the audience something new and unique, which needs to be appreciated.