Movie Review: Nerkonda Paarvai takes a resolute look at the concept of consent, in Tamil this time

Nerkonda Paarvai

Rating: 3.8/5                        

Language: Tamil

Cast: Ajith Kumar, Shraddha Srinath, Abirami Venkatachalam, Andrea Tariang, Rangaraj Pandey and Vidya Balan

Director: H. Vinoth

Based on: Pink by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury

Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja

Cinematography: Nirav Shah

Production company: Zee Studios & Bayview Projects LLP

Story & Screenplay: H. Vinoth, Shoojit Sircar, Ritesh Shah

Produced by: Boney Kapoor

Nerkonda Paarvai (which can be interpreted as direct gaze or resolute look) is adapted from Aniruddha Roy Chaudhary's 2016 Hindi film Pink (starring Amitabh Bachchan). 

For those who have seen Pink, the trailer of Nerkonda Paarvai might have led them to wonder if the remake had crossed over into being a total masala movie. It has not. The director of the movie has stayed true to the original plot. For those who have not seen Pink, this is a must-watch, socially relevant film with an engaging screenplay. 

The mood of the movie is set pretty similarly to Pink right from the first shot. The story starts with a day in the life of three busy, young, working women who share a flat in the city of Chennai – Shraddha Srinath (Meera), Andrea Tariang (Andrea) and Abhirami Vekatachalam (Famitha Banu).  It then pans over to a group of men Arjun Chidambaram (Adhik), Ashwin Rao (Venky) Adhik Ravichandran (Vishwa) and Sujith Sankar (Gavaskar) rushing to the hospital. One of them has been hit by a broken bottle and is bleeding from a gash quite close to his eye. 

A flashback takes the viewers back to when the girls had gone to a resort with the boys, only for things to turn ugly after a few drinks. Meera hits Adhik with a bottle when he attempts to molest her and the girls then flee from the place. The girls are seen as pensive after the event while trying to lead a normal life, until the true nightmare begins. 

Arjun Chidambaram plays Adhik in Nerkonda Paarvai
Arjun Chidambaram plays Adhik in Nerkonda Paarvai

Back to the present, the boys start threatening and intimidating them, leading the brave girls to file a police case. The misogyny and patriarchy starts right from the police station, where even the policewomen are apathetic and judgemental. The cops ignore the girls’ complaints and lodge only the boys’ attempted murder charges against Meera. 

Ajith reprises Amitabh Bachchan’s role as a depressed, bi-polar, medicine-popping lawyer and he has played the role in his inimitable style. Every scene and shot in which he appeared evoked loud cheers, whistles and witty comments from a surprisingly noisy and loud audience in the normally sedate Cathay Cineplex in Singapore. However, the scenes where his bipolar disorder takes hold of him seemed a little over the top. 

Ajith Kumar in a scene from Nerkonda Paarvai
Ajith Kumar in a scene from Nerkonda Paarvai

As a considerably younger character than Bachchan, he is seen romancing his wife (Vidya Balan in a cameo, clad in beautiful sarees that she drapes so well) and fighting off thugs who want to stop him from defending the girls. Thankfully the fights, song and dance are limited to the first half and the director moves on to the courtroom scenes in the second part of the movie and does full justice to them. 

The immensely meaningful dialogues from Pink sound amazing in Tamil as well. Lines such as, “These boys must realize that no means no. Whether the lady who says that is an acquaintance, a friend, a girlfriend, a sex worker or even if it is your own wife. ‘No’ means no and when someone says no, you stop” are delivered with aplomb by Ajith, to loud cheers and applause from his fans. Perhaps when it is heard from the lips of an actor of Ajith’s stature, the meaning will be absorbed better and practised as well by the audience. 

Shraddha Srinath has delivered a mature performance as a strong and resilient girl who exposes her vulnerability only to her two room-mates. The sequence in which the boys abduct and molest her in a moving car was reminiscent of the haunting scene in the Bollywood film Mom where Sridevi’s daughter is raped in a moving car. Abirami was not very convincing while Andrea was good, just as she was in the original Pink.

Courtroom scene from Nerkonda Paarvai
Courtroom scene from Nerkonda Paarvai

Courtroom dramas have always been popular in Tamil cinema of yore. Hope this one is too. Especially as sexual harassment and issues of disrespect for women’s safety, dignity and consent have been making the headlines too frequently for comfort, in the southern belt of India as well in recent years. Women who drink, wear certain kinds of clothes, go to clubs, laugh out loud or even hail from  north India are seen as immoral. 

The final message in Nerkonda Paarvai comes out loud and clear when the judge clears all charges against the girls and orders further investigation into the allegations against the men. 

All in all, Nerkonda Paarvai stays true to the plot and the message of the original Pink and delivers it, catering to a south Indian audience. This relevant film with a powerful message is a must-watch for the important issues it highlights. 

Nerkonda Paarvai Official Trailer