Ameer Sulthan | India | 2007 | 139’ | Tamil spoken, English subtitles
Paruthiveeran is essentially a Romeo-and-Juliet tragedy set in Paruthiyur, Tamil Nadu, south India. But it would be hard to find another Indian film of such unbridled ferocity, both in violence and in love. Melodramatic and over the top in keeping with the rustic, hot-headed community he captures, and absolutely sure of himself, director Ameer Sulthan grabs you by the collar and hurls you into the vortex of the film. In Tamil Nadu, audiences flocked to the theatres to see this film over one year, but usually left 20 minutes before the end: they couldn’t bear the climax. Paruthiveeran, a low caste criminal, had once saved the life of his sweet cousin Muthazhagu, a high caste Thevar, when they were kids, and she later falls in love with him. Although he’s a despicable lout whose only dream is to be thrown in jail so he can have his photo printed in the local daily, she remains obsessively devoted to him. At one point, he realises he’s in love with her, and they decide to elope since their clans are sworn enemies. But it is with heart-breaking consequences, as Muthazhagu pays for Paruthiveeran’s sins.
Produced by Studio Green and directed by Ameer Sulthan, this feisty, unforgettable film, backed by strong performances and cinematography, was acclaimed at the Berlin Film Festival.