Parole Movie Review: An engrossing tale of sibling rivalry

Parole Movie Review: An engrossing tale of sibling rivalry

What would otherwise have been a generic story of a dysfunctional family and their internal dynamics, is made intriguing by narrating non-linearly through multiple chapters
Rating:(3 / 5)

North Madras has been a favourite backdrop for Tamil filmmakers when it comes to narrating gritty, raw crime stories. Debutant Dwarakh Raja also picks this familiar setting to present a tale of two brothers set amidst bloodshed and gruesome murders. The two central characters in this film are named after historical figures — Karikalan (Linga) and Kovalan (RS Karthik). It is the rivalry between these two brothers that form the film's crux.

Director: Dwarakh Raja

Cast: Linga, RS Karthik, Vinodhini Vaidyanathan, Monisha Murali, Janaki Suresh

Sibling rivalry because of a parent being over-affectionate towards one of the children is a tried-and-tested template in our cinema. Parole follows this same idea, but it's also a crime thriller and briefly, an interesting courtroom drama. The film begins with the death of Aarayi (Janaki Suresh), who was living with her younger son Kovalan while the elder one, Karikalan, is serving a double life imprisonment. Kovalan, who hates his brother, plans to cremate his mother without informing Karikalan. However, circumstances force him to apply for his brother's parole. But wait... the parole is just a sham as both of them have bigger plans to execute.

Parole follows a non-linear narrative, which might seem disjointed in the beginning, but that's how flashes of memories are supposed to be. There is even a dialogue in the film to justify this creative choice — nyabagam endrathu cinema-la vara maari ner koda varaadhu. What would have otherwise been a generic story of a dysfunctional family and their internal dynamics, is made intriguing by narrating it through multiple chapters that are rich in drama. The structuring of these scenes is fascinating with a frequent dose of unexpected moments.

Parole gets to its best during the compelling courtroom scenes. Vinodhini Vaidyanathan's realistic performance and TSR as the no-nonsensical judge make these scenes effective. It is probably the first time in Tamil cinema that the legal procedures that are followed in a parole hearing are shown in such great detail, and it is such novel moments make the film somewhat unique. Despite the complex screenplay in Parole, the proceedings are largely comprehensible courtesy of some smart editing, which occasionally borders on spoon-feeding too. Raj Kumar Amal's music is also apt, particularly the rousing score during the build-up scenes for Karikalan.

The two lead actors, Linga and RS Karthik, hold the film together with their solid performances. Though both Karikalan and Kovalan are equally important characters, it is the former who gets a more well-defined arc. During his early days in the juvenile home, he becomes a victim of sexual abuse, which has a harrowing effect throughout his life. It is appreciable that the makers chose to address such uncommon topics, but wish they handled it with more sensitivity. The film has an abundance of graphic visuals, ranging from sexual violence to gratuitous physical violence. It only reiterates the wrong notion that for a film to be raw and gritty, it should have such gory, uncomfortable visuals.

The posters of Parole were called out for copying the Stranger Things font. Incidentally, the film also has plenty of strange things in it. Both Karikalan and Kovalan have romantic interests in the film and there is absolutely no reason why the girls would be interested in these unruly men. It also has one of the strangest proposal scenes of all time — a bunch of goons is about to stab Karikalan when a girl, out of nowhere, screams 'I Love You'. It distracts the goons and helps Karikalan escape from them. He then confronts the girl, who he is seeing for the first time. What's even more strange is that the scene ends with them falling in love and kissing each other.

Parole suffers heavily from a hasty ending. The redemption angle towards the end is rushed and unconvincing. It would have worked better with a bit more clarity in writing. There are still some memorable moments like Karikalan's explanation of why he wants to escape jail. The reason is simple — for fan kaathu. It might sound lame, but it's a big deal for someone who is about to be robbed off the comfort of a fan's breeze for the next 28 years. It is such simple but meaningful moments that make Parole an appreciable attempt from Dwarakh Raja and his young team.

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