Aruvi will pour into your heart, drench your soul and flow out of your eyes.

Aruvi
A kid in school without a worry in the world.
A girl next door that you’ll miss in the crowd.
A look that can arrest you. A wince that can cripple you.
Is she the wounded prey ?Is she here to ruin your day ?
The smile that will make you sway. The eyes that give nothing away.

It’s tempting to discuss the plot and the story. To applaud and to nit pick. I’m going to save that for another day after another watch, but I want to talk about what struck me immediately. This movie is here to break the mold.

A script that seem to have stemmed from a growing disdain for the “masala formula” that has been plaguing Tamil movies forever. An intentional breakup with the status quo.

An hour into the movie, you hear the film maker in the voice of Aruvi: “ஒரு படம் 120 ரூபா. என்ன மயி**கு படம் எடுக்கராங்க ? ஓரு குடும்பம் 1000 ரூபா செலவு பன்னி ஒரு படம் பாக்க போனா, அந்த படத்துல எதாது இருகனம் இல்ல ? ஓரு மன்னாங்கட்டியும் இருக்காது. ஆனா இந்த படத்த நீ பாத்து தான் ஆகனும். ஏன்னா அதுதான் விதி”

You wonder if the entire monologue was a way to sneak this dialogue into the movie. (I’m exaggerating, of course)

A refreshing cast that has not been tainted by the burden of the past.

A genre that’s difficult to describe.

A female protagonist but the movie doesn’t bring your attention to it. Not only does it pass the Bechdel test, it knocks it out of the park.

Emotional Connection: How long did it take to make that connection with the central character, Aruvi ? When she cries you feel the pain, when she smiles you get a hit of dopamine. She’s doing things that you’ve never done and saying things you’ll never say but yet there’s this extremely short nerve that connects you both. How did you let her wield that power over you ?

“என்ன அழ வை, இல்ல செத்து போ.” — Aruvi says to Arulmani. The guy she just beat up.

Up until that moment you’ve seen Arulmani fill the checklist for a stereotypical Tamil cinema villain. Selfish. Womanizer. Entitled. Dominant. Wielding power. Then, you’re shown a countdown timer. In between muffled crying and sniveling you hear him narrate a real moment — a scene from his life. 5 minutes. Three hundred seconds. That’s all it took to get you to see his human side. Arulmani will never be a stereotype villain anymore.

It’s difficult to sustain such a connection. The story, plot, dialogues, camera angles, music are powerful tools in the hands of the film maker to maintain this magical connection with you.

Nostalgia: It starts with a generous serving of nostalgia in the first minutes of the movie. Montage sequence stitches everything that you’ve ever forgotten since your childhood.

Thooli. Feeding bottle. Powder dabba. Antenna. Shaktimaan. Out of focus photographs. Raja chinna roja. VCR. Audio cassette. Deepavali bakshanam. Classroom. Angry teacher. Goofy classmates. Love letter, FLAMES, Arun Ice cream ball.

Nostalgic hooks. Subtly placed so it’s not “in-your-face”. You blink and you’ll miss it, yet that fraction of a second is all it takes to take you back, warm your heart and make you see a part of you in Aruvi.

Aruvi has left me wanting for more such bold movies. Last year has been a welcome surprise with movies like Managaram, Vikram Vedha and now Aruvi. I can’t wait for more.