Just a few weeks back, Madhavan’s Rocketry: The Nambi Effect showcased the trials of a rocket scientist who gets embroiled in a case of epsionage.
Now, what if something similar happens to a security guard?
Gargi is something on those lines, and much more than that. Sai Pallavi’s latest release combines the elements of a whodunit and courtroom drama to dish out a hard-hitting tale that constantly plays hide-and-seek with your mind and its various judgements and pre-conceived notions.
Gargi (Sai Pallavi) is a school teacher who is on the verge of getting married. “Will there be upma in our wedding menu as well?,” the boy jokingly asks Gargi. All is well, it looks like, till one fateful day turns things upside down.
That’s when her father, Brahmanandam (RS Shivaji), who works as a security guard in an apartment nearby, fails to return home. Gargi goes to enquire about his whereabouts, only to learn that the cops have arrested him, in connection with a rape case of a nine-year-old. Why has he been held and how will Gargi handle this life-changing situation?
Gargi gets a lot of things right, with its writing and dialogues on point. While it raises many pertinent points about sexual abuse in a sensitive manner, it also showcases how a small change in perspective can make you see a situation differently. This is probably Sai Pallavi’s best performance till date; watch her smile when someone pulls her leg in the initial sequences, and then watch her frustration as she goes from pillar to post for her father. It’s a wholesome performance that few actresses have given in recent times. Also giving his best is Indrans (Kaali Venkat), who, in a supporting role as a lawyer, gets as much screen time as the female protagonist. We’ve seen Kaali Venkat in small roles in a few films earlier, but Gargi uses his potential to the fullest (Check out the way he delivers the ‘It’s not about what you know, it’s about what you can prove’ dialogue in the film).
Another filmmaker might have been tempted to cast a younger person in this role and tried fitting a romantic angle between the two leads, but director Gautam Ramachandran, thankfully, is as clear as the summer sky on what he wants to communicate. Props to him also for the casting of other characters; a transgender judge is a sign that Tamil cinema is on the path to handling subjects sensitively.
Cast: Sai Pallavi, Kaali Venkat, Aishwarya Lekshmi
Director: Gautham Ramachandran
Storyline: A teacher has to fight several odds for her father, who is accused in a gang rape case
Gargi is about perspectives, an area in which it excels. It keeps turning its lens on the prying eyes of the media, the judgemental eyes of the system and keeps asking questions. Pushed to a corner, Sai Pallavi is frustrated but strides ahead confidently. What would you do if you were her? Gargi makes you think. One wishes that it had explored the journalist character (Aishwarya Lekshmi) and Gargi’s other family members were fleshed out and the flashback portions had more weight, but those are minute issues.
What’s astonishing is that Gargi achieves an edge-of-the-seat mood without the simmering tension that you would usually associate with a whodunit. With quiet confidence, it goes about peeling off layers of characters, even as Govind Vasantha’s music adds mood to the visuals by Sraiyanti and Premkrishna Akkatu. Somewhere, there’s a daughter trying to save her father. Elsewhere, there’s a father whose daughter has been molested. And, there’s another father whose daughter is going to get married. And then there’s us, the audience, watching this courtroom drama in awe and shock. Gargi hits you in the gut like few films have in recent times.
Gargi released in theatres today
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