Director: Lakshmy Ramakrishnan
Cast: Viji Chandrasekhar, Jayaprakash, Uma Padmanabhan, Rajee Vijayasarathy
After playing supporting roles in films, Lakshmy Ramakrishnan makes her debut as a director with 'Aarohanam'. Centered around a vegetable vendor Nirmala, the film tracks her whereabouts when she goes missing one day.
Estranged from her husband who couldn’t stand her erratic ways and disappearing acts, with a 17-year-old school-going son to look after and her daughter’s wedding round the corner, it’s about what ails her and how she keeps her spirit alive. Moving away from the beaten track, the director has avoided the usual commercial trappings, and confined her storytelling to about 90 minutes.
The director has adopted a non-linear style of narration. The search of Senthil and Selvi for their missing mother is inter-cut with scenes of their earlier domestic life. But it gets jumpy with sloppy cuts, as it shuttles between the past and present. The arrangement of scenes and the flow could have been smoother. An element of suspense is maintained for a time. But when its unravelled, it’s neither convincing nor interesting.
The director brings in the serious issue of ‘bipolar’ disorder to account for her protagonist mood swings. But Nirmala seems more like a woman under stress, who at times buckles under domestic pressure, and at times breaks free from it. Bringing in a serious issue like the bipolar disorder only complicates what could have been a simple tale of stress and relief.
Nirmala’s expressions and antics are confusing; she rolls her eyes, and sways, as if she is possessed. And, one cannot understand what her problem is. Vijy seems to have taken some inspiration from her sister Sarita’s performance in 'Agnisakshi'.
It could have been a great comeback role for her, if only the character was fleshed out well, and her performance a little more controlled.
Nirmala dancing with gay abandon at an elite party where an MLA (Jayaprakash) gate crashes, is an artificial add-on. The same applies to the scene where two society ladies are on their way to a conference and party.
The director should have done her homework before taking up such a serious issue as a concept. Both the script and treatment are amateurish.
'Aarohanam' is, at the most, a stepping stone for the filmmaker. It may serve as a valuable experience gained and a reference for how she could craft a more coherent screenplay, bringing in more clarity and focus on her narration.