In Tamil cinema, movies about mental disorders have mostly been a cliche. It is either used to show a hero's bravado or villains' ruthlessness. Another thing is also extremely rare in Tamil cinema, its the movies about the power of women. Lakshmy Ramakrishnan's non-linear tale"Aarohanam" takes both these rarities and gives us a sensational non-judgmental movie. This is a unflinching portrayal of mental depression among women without being sentimental and loud.
The story here is very simple: The life of Nirmala, a vegetable vendor who raises her kids single-handedly after her husband deserts her another woman. That's not unheard story. Most of the Tamil cinema hero's flashbacks contains something like this story. But "Aaraohanam" altogether travels in a different path. The movie starts in an interesting way, where two rich socialites, Sandy and Jay joyfully share the details of their lives and are on their way to the launch of Sandy's website. The chat about their busy lives comes to a halt, when they accidentally run over a woman.
Then comes the intriguing tale of the woman they have run over. Senthil and his sister Selvi, whose marriage is a few days away finds that their mother, Nirmala is missing. Over the years, Nirmala has put up with her husband's ill-natured words, and thousand other toils, has brought up her children by doing odd jobs, from selling insurance to vegetables. At time she suffers from extreme mood-swings, even though she has had a great determination to succeed in life. What is her problem? and what has happened after the accident forms the latter part of the movie.
Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, in her feature-film debut, has taken a challenging subject like "Bi-polar Disorder" and has handled it with a finesse. She has selected a excellent cast and has accumulated perfect emotions from the actors. Mental disorders are often seen in serial-killer movies, but here the movie not only shows the illness in a subtle, non-sentimental manner, but also celebrates the optimistic side of that problem. There is also no black-and-white characters here. The movie doesn't show poor people as saints and rich people as arrogant, mirthless people.
Viji Chandrasekhar is the perfect choice for Nirmala. She exudes a great energy in her role and the mood-swings are done in a falutless, non-dramatic manner. Most of the characters represented here resembles the ones you might have seen in your neighborhood or family. Be it the faithful beggar or caring-Muslim Neighbour, or Nirmala or MLA, we have met or seen them somewhere. Most of the Tamil films, miss that kind of characterization, but Aarohanam is spot-on target. The crafty and dazzling cinematography by Shanmugasundaram deserves a special mention, and the editing takes the movie to a different, exciting level. K's music is unobtrusive and is in sync with the script.
There are some minor glitches in the screenplay especially towards the end, but they don't change our overall movie experience. Aarohanam is more engaging than any one of the recent big-budget star-vehicles. It delivers a valid message and will surely be one of the best Tamil films, this year. I am very glad that I had the chance to watch this meaningful and mature Tamil cinema.