It doesn’t take long to identify a dreadful film. With Paramadham Vilayattu—dubbed as Trisha 60—you get hints early on, when you see the laughable attempts at capturing the seriousness of an important political meeting. The setting feels artificial, the actors wooden, the dialogues forced and expository. Once it was clear I was in for a testing experience, the next natural question, aimed mainly at self-preservation, was, ‘What sort of bad would this film turn out to be?’ The worst type is what I like to call the ‘vapid bad’ category. It’s all those mirthless films that numb you, that cause existential distress. Paramapatham Vilayattu, thankfully, has enough deranged portions to keep you amused—not that this is its objective, of course. The makers seem convinced that you are in for a thrilling experience.
Cast: Trisha, Nandha, Richard
A Chief Minister is assassinated, and a righteous doctor, Gayathri (Trisha), turns detective, putting her deaf daughter in harm’s way. Certain political developments at the beginning, seem like riffs on real incidents, but then, this attempt to satirise State politics stops without warning, when the story turns into a survival thriller. A kidnapped Gayathri is trying to utilise unusual objects in her room to try and fashion her escape. But soon, she gets out and there’s a chase sequence, and out of nowhere, there’s an item song. What! It’s a film that has you on the edge of your seat, for all the wrong reasons. You never know what bizarre development awaits you in Paramapadham Vilayattu. It’s fun when you are playing an actual game of snakes and ladders, not when you are watching a film.
Take, for example, the psycho assassin called David (Richard) who prowls about in this film. He starts off predictably enough, demanding that Gayathri hand over a ‘chip’. But soon, his eccentricities take control of this film. In one scene, after asking Gayathri which god she worships, he leaps on a car like Aaruchaami, and proceeds to make unhinged impressions of various deities. I concluded that he was barking mad but didn’t know at the time that he would go on to be literally so. In more than one scene in this rudderless film, he is shown to be barking… at a dog. He shows curious variety in making these barking noises: he howls, he snarls… you get the whole package even if you are not sure why. At first, I was confused, but soon enough, was crying in laughter once I realised the futility of making sense of this film. Richard seems in a trance during these scenes in which David is seemingly having a conversation with his dog through barking and growling. It’s the oddest thing I have seen in Tamil cinema this year, and yes, I know that the year includes Bhoomi’s villain relieving himself in a living room flower vase.
There’s another bizarre idea—that of a man introduced in an item number late into the film, suddenly becoming part of the film’s narrative. You see this man for the first time when he drinks and dances with a group of women for a song that begins with a Telugu cuss word for some strange reason, and soon as the song ends, this strange man takes on the mantle of rescuing Gayathri and child. This film, promoted on the popularity of its woman actor, can’t even be bothered to let her extricate herself from danger. But I suppose these are nuances we must not really care about when discussing a film like Paramapadham Vilayattu, which cares about very little, including character strength, consistency, conviction in performance, and coherence in storytelling. The most conviction you spot in this film is when actor Richard barks. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d ever type in a film review.
This review was written for Cinema Express, and was originally uploaded here.