Pistha Movie Review: Metro Shirish takes a pedestrian and unconvincing route to the rural side
Pistha hinges on the last act of the film to act as a redeeming factor for the misgivings in the earlier portions, but it is a classic case of too little too late
Every actor who makes their debut with an urban film, soon gravitates to a rural film in their career. It is but the natural order in Tamil cinema and an attempt to attract a wider range of audience. This also ensures the longevity of sorts in an industry where the worth of actors oscillates every Friday. That is why we had someone like Arvind Swamy follow up Thalapathy and Roja with a true-blue 90s rural drama called Thaalaattu. The box-office results notwithstanding, it was a clear attempt by an urban actor to reach literally greener pastures. In many ways, Pistha is actor Metro Shirish’s way of expanding his repertoire. In fact, in one of the songs in the film, Shirish sings, 'City la maatikitta village man-a di.' Well, once the curtains are brought down in this painfully pedestrian rural drama, one can’t help but think Shirish is a 'Village la maatikitta city man.'
Director: M Ramesh Baarathi
Cast: Metro Shirish, Sathish, Mrudula Murali, Namo Narayana
Pistha begins with a rather interesting premise. The protagonist Saravanan is geared up for his own wedding, and all the banners and hoardings announcing this event have a blank space where the bride is ought to be. No one knows who the bride is. In fact, even Saravanan has no clue who he is going to marry the next morning. A rather fascinating premise, for sure. And it is from this point that Pistha unfolds in a confusing fashion without a steady hold on proceedings.
Saravanan and friends work for Yogi Babu’s novel start-up that disrupts marriages that happen without the consent of either party. In any other film, they might be the heroes, and for some time in Pistha, they sure are the mistaken do-gooders. But slowly, the concept of tradition, and conservatism takes over, and we are left with Saravanan and Co ruing the fact that karma has caught up with them. They don’t get married because they stop marriages. But… they were forced marriages, you might argue, and you will be right. If only, the makers thought of the larger picture. Anyway, this change of heart in Saravanan comes after a romantic sojourn that once again had the potential to go somewhere, but the makers are happy to deal with low-hanging fruits.
Not just in the romantic portions, but the biggest flaw in Pistha is the rather easy pickings in the humour portions too. Bringing in a dash of astrology into the mix doesn’t really work either. While the scenes with Saravanan and his family comprising of Munaivar Gnanasambandham and Lollu Sabha Swaminathan manage to evoke a few laughs, albeit sparingly, they are just not enough. There is a whole sense of nothingness attached to the proceedings of Pistha, and it isn’t necessarily a red flag. We have seen such rural comedies thrive on this lethargy and nonchalance. However, they backed this with inventiveness in the writing. Here, when the narrative shifts goalposts like it’s nobody’s business, we don’t really buy it because we are hardly invested in the happenings. It might still be okay if we don’t laugh with the characters, but when we don’t empathise with their never-ending problems, then the film is on a downward spiral.
The songs of Dharan Kumar work as welcome distractions, and it elevates the film to quite an extent. We have an ensemble cast, including the random appearances of veteran comedian Senthil that hardly works for the film. Why have him in the film as an afterthought? Nevertheless, there are a couple of non-linear narratives that introduce us to a new conflict every 20-odd minutes, but most of them fall flat. While actors like Swaminathan, Sathish, and Namo Narayana clearly have a lot of fun, the same can’t be said of Shirish who feels like a fish out of water in this setting. The stilted dialogue delivery and a rather sedate presence in the louder portions don’t help his case at all. The confidence that we saw in his Metro and Raja Ranguski seems to be missing in Pistha.
Pistha hinges on the last act of the film to act as a redeeming factor for the misgivings in the earlier portions. The heart is definitely in the right place, but just like Senthil’s appearance in the film, this too is so much an afterthought that it feels like a gift wrapped with a recycled and crumpled wrapper. This could have been overlooked if the gift was new and interesting, but well… what preceded that afterthought wasn’t a well-thought-out endeavour either.