Saturday, 9 December 2017

Rciihe: Starts well, ends well, too non-linear all the way!

A church pastor simply preaches forgiveness everyday to all theists in town. On an opposite note, a thug lives all his life, forgiving a person, who never could be pardoned.

A centuries-old Roman myth might have an idiosyncratic connect with a Christmas eve shootout in a remote village of Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu.

Betrayal does not come from the enemy but, a friend in need.

A story neither has a beginning, nor an end, but just different perceptions.

Above all, if you think I've mispelt Richie in this viewer's note's title, then, you are the one, who should watch it right away.

Okay. I'm done. Now it's time to connect the dots. I've added five aspects that Richie speaks about in it's crux. Carrying all possible technical terms used by a film critic - sub-text, gesture, jump cuts, undercurrent, neo-noir and above all non-linear, Richie simply has it all.

This movie cannot be reviewed in a conventional format. So, this could be quirky for you. Still, I've written it to be spoiler free.

Simply, when we read a crime article, like a gangster knocked down or a mechanic murdered, we don't see the other side of it. What if, such a crime scene is narrated by different people of which for some, the victim is a demigod, while for the rest, the murderer is an acquaintance.

However, the take away from Richie is not about this. But, it is the sub text, that it has throughout. Basically, Richie's plot is a serious ideological clash among four debaters - trust, betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness in friendship. This ideological debate is something that happens every year during the eve of Christmas as per a Roman Catholic myth.

For this, the movie features three pairs of friends among five people in the cast. And the story revolves around these five people who endorse the four debaters stated before. In short, what Richie conveys is - a church pastor preaches about forgiveness everyday, while a man lives his whole life on the same note.

To be honest, both the strength and the weakness of Richie is it's compliacted non-linear narration. For the first one hour, the movie travels in various directions, that completely miss relevance among each other. But it comes to a semi-vantage point during the interval. Since it is the narration of some n number of people, the  perception of the characters they narrate about too differs. Due to this, the characterisation of all who appear in the story seems to be uncertain and it takes a long time to settle into a conclusion on who is the actual good guy and bad guy.

Even the introduction block of Nivin Pauly too arrives somewhere after 20 minutes since the beginning of the movie despite, his character Richie takes the credit of being the title of the movie.

This is Nivin Pauly's direct debut to Tamil cinema. Wasn't Neram a Tamil movie? If so, cool, Nivin's career too seems to be non-linear by itself. Then why not Richie? Well, Neram, indeed was bi-lingual. I mean 1.5-lingual in an accurate caliper. So, Richie, actually is his first Tamil movie. But, the actor still speaks Malayalam in this Tamil debut venture. Wait, that's not even Malayalam, Tamil neither, but Talayalam, "Aamanda peyppayalae" and "Kuchikaari Mavanae" are best fitting examples for his dilapidated Tamil. We are enough with one Rajinikanth to do that service. Already we have a Mahesh Babu pitching in too. So Nivin, please, find a dub.

Leaving the rest, it's time to welcome him to Tamil Cinema. Which apparently, they've already did in the movie. With Vijay, Ajith and Rajini in three sides, and Nivin in the middle. Why leave Kamal alone? Take this they've said and have played 'Annaatha Aadurar' to which Nivin dances in the midst of puliaatam performers.

Nivin Pauly, though, is promoted to be hero of the movie, the plot does not have a single character in specific as protagonist. And so, the movie also has an evenly shared screen space for all its characters. In his limited screen space, Nivin has simply did his subtle acting as usual. One just falls in love with his screen presence in this movie, with an exception for his Malayalish Tamil.

While, the second most pivotal role is Natty's, who is a do-anything-for-friend type person and plays the role of a Madurai guy (a reason for every name). Then comes, Aadukalam Murugadoss, who again is a friend in need and stays like that through out. His character is introduced as Nanban Murugesh, since he is the only one trust worthy friend next to Natty, in the whole lot of characters. While, there is a lot of betrayal from a friend from beginning till end.

Like Nanban Murugesh, every character has a metaphor before or after their name. Some of them are Kaakaa Peter (His character is related to St Peter, who brings out the mythical connect from the ocean, while, Richie eventually pushes a St Peter statue in the latter part of the movie). Odu Raghu odu (Rajbarath), is one other character, who has a reason to run from trouble every time. And each time, when he runs, he leaves one of the debaters behind.

The Cuban Kid Richie and Madurai Paiyyan Selva (Natty) arrive in at last. And, there is a reason for both of them to be given these names. Not just because Selva is from Madurai, and Richie speaking in an unknown language(not Talayalam, but a language that he never wanted to speak and reveal about himself and his pain). All these characters have their story in their own perception of which Richie alone does not reveal it out. And so, the beginning of one's story could be the half way of others in their own view point. So, no story has a beginning or an end, that's how Richie concludes.

Richie, is one of the very few movies, that needs a lot of dedication when watching. I could see a lot of disappointing faces when leaving the screen. All I can say them is, go watch it once again with an empty mind, zero expectations and Eagle's vision to read all details in every frame. Remember Santa Maria? the third Vessel of Christopher Columbus. The wreckage of that vessel is still a mystery. Richie has its reference too. Like, every other frame has something to say, indeed.

And, if still someone asks me do I really like this movie? my reply would be "Aamanda peyppayalae".

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, Dec 9, 2017

This viewer's note is completely based on the perceptions of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only.

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