Paradesi (2013)
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Movie: Paradesi
Cast: Atharva, Dhansika, Vedhika
Direction, Story & Screenplay: Bala
Banner: B Studios
Music: GV Prakash Kumar
Cinematography: Chezhiyan
Editing: Kishore
Run Time: 126 Mins
Genre: Drama, History, Period
Release Date: 15 Mar 2013

Paradesi (2013)

Good: Atharva’s performance, Vedika’s first hour presence, Camera work
Bad: Songs could have better, redundant sequences in 2nd half, doctor and his wife.
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‘Paradesi’ is based on real life incidents that took place before independence during the 1940s. Paradesi is inspired from a novel called ‘Eriyum Panikadu‘ (translation of Red Tea). The film delves into the wretched lives of tea plantation workers. The movie realistically depicts the lives of poor carefree villagers who are lured to work in tea plantation farms and how they are forced to live rest of their lives as slaves with no trace of hope and freedom.

The film has lifelike characters that draw you into their lives with their realistic performances. The film exposes the pain, anguish and suffering of the enslaved tea workers of South India under the British in the late 1930s.

It’s 1939 and the story is set in backdrops of ‘Saaloor’ village focalizing on the realistic lives of dwellers and their customs. Ottu Porukki aka Rasa (Atharva) earns his livelihood as an announcer with percussions across the lanes and his innocence attracts Angamma (Vedhika), who falls in love apparently. Unbearable to the drought, Rasa moves to the neighboring town for earning and comes across a landlord of tea estates, who vows an efficient job and good pay to all his townsmen and their family with an annual holiday.

Hoodwinking them all into deep thinking that he is a genuine person, they all travel more than a month to reach the tea estate vacating their lands. Meanwhile, the intimacy between Rasa and Angamma results in her pregnancy. Elated over this news, he decides to meet her, but is denied with his break from work… The true colors of the landlord is unraveled and the workers are beaten black and blue tortured unceasingly. Rasa comes across a married woman named Maragatham (Dhansika), whose husband left her and their daughter desolated breaking loose from the gruesome landlord.

In his attempt to fly the coop for meeting his wife Angamma and newborn son, Rasa is caught red-handed by the henchmen of the landlord and is penalized badly with physical attack. Unbearable harassment of women by Englishmen, deadly plague disease haunting and devilish nature of the landlord – the laborers are ghastly wedged in hell and the drama ends on a shocking note.

12 Reviews

  1. Rediff

    Paradesi is Exceptional – Must Watch!

    Bala takes on the challenge of transforming the boy-next-door looks of Atharvaa into an almost bald, unsophisticated village simpleton of a bygone era. Though it is well known that Bala brings out the best in his actors, due credit must be given to Atharvaa for his superb performance. Atharvaa has just two films to his credit, but his portrayal of the character in this film is like that of a seasoned actor.

    Vedhika plays the role of a young village belle to perfection. She is nicely tanned, very simply dressed and has absolutely no make-up throughout the film.

    Dhanshika, too, has a substantial role to play, that of a young abandoned woman with a child, who is also trapped in the tea estate. The sheer helplessness of all the characters in the film is truly heart wrenching.

    Bala for the first time teams up with G V Prakash for the music of Paradesi. Though the songs are not overnight chartbusters, the music certainly brings out the essence of the film’s period setting. This is also the first time that Bala has worked with the legendary Vairamuthu, who has effectively expressed the anguish, suffering and helplessness of the characters of the film through his poignant verses, especially in Sengaade and Senneer Thaana. An interesting fact is that the tunes were composed and the lyrics written after Bala picturised the visuals for the scene.

    The movie is set in 1939, and cinematographer Chezhiyan’s camera has managed to capture all the essential elements of that era, be it the beauty of the lush tea estates of South India, the stark living conditions of the estate workers or the raw emotions of the characters in the film.

    Bala’s Paradesi stays with you long after you walk out of the theatre. In fact you need a few minutes to reorient yourself back to the present, Bala captivates with his authentic script, unadorned visuals and down-to-earth characters. A must-watch.

  2. Kanchana

    Paradesi is surely yet another landmark film of director Bala and would receive tremendous appreciation from filmmakers and critics.

  3. Vazhi Pookan

    No doubt, Paradesi will be a landmark film for director Bala and Tamil cinema.

    Chances at the box office may be uphill. Bala doesn’t artificially sprinkle the narration with melodrama, cinematic romance, triumph of good over bad, power of hope and uprising, revenge-seeking action nor clapworthy dialogues. Bala could’ve easily done a few compromises here and there to make it a commercial appealing movie which he has also successfully done it in the past. But, looks like the master was just not in the mood to do so this time.

    The story, concept and emotions portrayed are universal and applies to any time period in history or even future. Bala and his team totally deserve to sweep a number of national and global awards this year. Paradesi will be unanimously praised by film-makers and critics for the boldness and obsession of Bala’s uncompromised vision.

  4. Moviebuzz

    Paradesi may be too dark for some viewers. But here is a definitive movie that touches a deep emotional chord and will leave a lump in your throat. Paradesi is definitively a classic with grace and power. Hats off to Bala for taking the road less traveled, and that makes all the difference.

    Verdict – Brilliant

  5. Ramchander

    Paradesi is a brilliant made movie but the lack of commercial elements will not guarantee the success. Nonetheless, the film will be loved by Bala’s fans!

    First of all, audience should enter the cine halls without any expectations and clear there pre-conceived thoughts of enjoying the movie. It is a true Bala’s film and if you are a fan of the director, you would rate it the best work of him till date. The highlight of the story is that Bala has not hesitated to tell that everybody including rulers and Christian missionaries had only one goal of making people slaves.

    Performance wise, Bala has brought the best out of his characters once again. His main roles – Atharva, Dhansika and Vedhika have done complete justice to their roles. In fact, they have given their lives to the roles and impresses audience with varied expressions. Artistes like Uma, Udhay Karthik and others have given their best.

  6. RJ Balaji

    Paradesi – one of the best & original film made in Tamil.Though the film s on d sufferrings of bonded labours, it is the first film in Tamil to boldly record how people in the name of religion(not one but many) exploited people’s suffering. Very Disturbing. Will surely take few days to come out of it, defintely not for the light hearted. Excpet music I liked everything bout the film. This one is beyond 120 Rs.

  7. Nandhini Ramnath

    Although Paradesi is as bleak as Bala’s older movies, there’s a tonal shift from miserablist epics like Pithamagan and Naan Kadavul. Paradesi encases its characters in helplessness rather than outrage.

    Bala’s cinema has its fair share of cathartic blood-letting—his characters suffer to breaking point and then no more—but Paradesi’s tone is one of submissiveness. However, the agony of the indentured labourers doesn’t go unheard. They moan their fate loudly, beat their chests violently, wail in despair, and tear their hair in despair. The arthouse movies of the seventies and eighties depicted impoverished Indians as silent noble souls who swallowed their suffering. During Paradesi’s most heightened moments, it appears as though Bala is single-handedly trying to undo that cinematic legacy. He has also momentarily pared down his interest in the underclass.

    Paradesi clocks a crisp 120 minutes– not enough to replicate the richness of Pithamagan and Avan Ivan, and not enough to accommodate new ideas on age-old forms of exploitation.

  8. Richard Mahesh

    The Purest classic of Tamil Cinema till the date.

    Bala ensures of a top-notch quality in technical aspects. First things first! Cinematography by Chezhian deserves a standing ovation. You might be spotting SEPIA tone throughout the show, but it’s the first time, a film has been captured with the right effects in this tone. If you’re looking out for the best illustrations – the opening shot and the climax one is more than enough for you to get awestruck Much more than the songs, it’s background score by GV Prakash that overshadows his previous magnum opus like ‘Kireedom’ and ‘Aayirathil Oruvan’. . Tons of appreciations to this young legend for a remarkable rerecording…

    The film might have been missed out of some international film festivals, but if there could be one Indian movie to compete in ‘Best Foreign Language’ in Oscars, Bala’s ‘Paradesi’ should be the first preference of the Indian Oscars Committee.

    Every beating that these artists had in Reality Trailer will apparently win them the same number of awards and there is no doubt about it.

  9. Kannan

    Movie is awesome… Should have got more national awards.. Don’t know the reason why it got elected for National Award 2013.. supposed to be next year

  10. suresh

    waste film so boor

  11. MOHAN D

    Director Bala had missed many things in this film. The so called Kangani recruiting the labourers to the plantaions and their migraion to these tea garden area is shown as moving from one village to another. Really It is a tedious journey through wilderness,jungles, facing elephants,wild animals, leeches, malaria etc.

    Secondly, Christianity is not propogated as shown in the film. Many Christian missionaries faced more sufferings than the plantation labours in the jungles.

    Balancing the communal cord, Bala created One Christian Medical Practioner(doctor), One Hindu Poojari & One Muslim Vendor characters for this Film.

    The ascent of Malayalam or any Keralite character is missing in this film, even though, the entire stroy is related to Munnar, which is in Kerala.

    Hats off to Bala hoping to give DNAs to his next film.

  12. Uday Kumar

    Definetly This Movie Brings A Bright Future 2 Atharvaa & Directir Bala..
    Movie was Simply Superb with Heart Touching Performance &
    Unexpected Climax..
    Hats-off 2 Bala Sir………./\…………..

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