Palasa 1978 And Pariyerum Perumal Similarities

Palasa 1978 And Pariyerum Perumal Movies Comparison | Palasa 1978 Review And Collections
Palasa 1978 has similarities with
Tamil Movie Pariyerum Perumal

Telugu movie "Palasa 1978" And Tamil movie "Pariyerum Perumal" has some similarities - Author Shyam Prasad Koganti

Note: This is for those who have seen "Palasa 1978" - Author Shyam Prasad Koganti

Every time I come across some genuine film enthusiasts passionately promoting a Telugu film as a good alternate film, my first reaction is 'Aaahhhh at last..' and deep inside I so much wish that it doesn't turn out to be another bad film in the disguise of a good film like it happened many times in the last few years with an exception of few really well-made alternate films like 'C/O Kancharapalem', 'Pellichoopulu' or 'Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya'.

I knew nothing about Palasa 1978, except hearing about it from a friend, but the trailer did what it was meant to do. It looked raw, emotional and very thought-provoking. It invoked such curiosity in me that I could hardly wait for its release. Such were the visuals, the dialogues and the choice of music, etc in the trailer. It looked very authentic. With bad experience from the past, however, deep inside I was skeptical of the movie too as I know it takes a lot of meditation, thought and love to pull off a film that tries to bring up stories of caste-based discrimination in a very subtle way while not forgetting to tell a story.

I knew ‘Pariyerum Perumal’ and ‘Fandry’ are rare pieces and yet in my mind, I couldn’t help but draw parallels of how ‘Palasa’ could be our own ‘Pariyerum Perumal’! As soon as I got an opportunity to watch the film, I bought myself the best seat in the theatre – the middle seat in the very first row from the top, the best seat that a film buff like me could dream of :). Despite thirty minutes into the movie, I was not drawn into the film the way I wanted to. I waited till the interval and it was status-quo - that’s when I realized there is something wrong with the film.

Palasa 1978 And Pariyerum Perumal Movies Comparison | Palasa Review, Box Office Collections
"Palasa 1978" Movie reviews 

The core idea of Palasa is very good and an important one to be told, but shouldn’t movies be about storytelling? Growing up in casteist states such as Andhra Pradesh, one may have a lot of political statements to make, a lot of questions to ask, but they shouldn’t be pushed down one’s throat when the expression is a film. The discrimination, the injustice and the vulnerability of Dalits for centuries are facts, but the same should come across subtly, as by-products, and we, as the audience, should feel them as we watch the story unfold. When such stories are written for the screen, the first and foremost element, in my opinion, is the build-up. Consider the beginning 10 minutes of ‘Pariyerum Perumal’ for instance. We are introduced to the circumstances within which our protagonist lives. Not many words, but we get to know that they are discriminated at the most fundamental level and we understand a great deal about this young boy, his character and his ambitions. We understand his pain when his beloved black dog is brutally killed, and we also understand it takes a lot for this boy to be agitated and go astray. Despite all that he experiences in the first 10 minutes of the film, his resolve to study law and become one like Dr. B.R Ambedkar doesn’t change. These details are sufficient enough for us to be hooked to the protagonist. That’s when we would want to travel with the protagonist and see how he deals with the pain and how it transforms him. In cinematic language, this is called ‘Inciting Incident’ or ‘World Building’. Where are such scenes in Palasa which tell me about what is Mohan Rao is made of? What are his ambitions? What is that he loves most in life? What is he as a person apart from being oppressed? What are his traits as an individual? Before he becomes what he becomes, what was he? These have to be established for me to be drawn into the world of Mohan Rao.

Every character in the film should add to the journey of the protagonist. Again, consider the character of the female protagonist in Periyerum Perumal. She is not there just because films need a female protagonist. She is there for the male protagonist to learn how discrimination on the basis of caste doesn’t leave him even when he is studying in a nice college or even if he is in a bigger town where more civilized people, in the real sense of the word, live. That’s what breaks him and that’s what gets him head-on with his demons. Every time he raises, he is shown his place. In the case of Palasa, what does the female protagonist bring to the table? What does she teach the male protagonist? In which way she transforms his world or his understanding of the world? Take her out of the film, does the film lose anything significant? I don’t think it does.

Palasa 1978 movie reviews and box office collections
Rakshit and Nakshatra
The lead pair of "Palasa 1978"

I understand why Mohan Rao becomes furious all of a sudden and starts hitting people at the well, when upper castes don't allow Dalits to draw water from the same well as they do, but shouldn’t build-up be necessary for the audience to feel the anger of the protagonist? The build-up of rage and the eventual outburst happens over a period of time and that’s when I go on a journey with the characters. The characters have to invoke empathy in me, but not just because he/she is downtrodden/a Dalit. One often forgets that movies essentially sell emotions or feelings and in the process, they raise questions on status-quo si that the audience is made to think. There are many places in the movie where the characters all of a sudden behave a certain way and all of a sudden the conflict gets resolved. Consider for instance the way conflict starts between the two brothers and all of a sudden it gets resolved. It felt silly. What was the purpose of conflict and why didn’t their conflict disturb me? If the conflict is not meant to disturb, then why have it in the first place? I didn’t even fully understand what was the conflict between the brothers of the upper caste. What changed with that conflict?

I was particularly irritated by the ending of the film. I don’t endorse what the police officer Sebastian eventually becomes, but it is possible that a sincere and righteous police officer may outgrow his own thinking, that education is the key as Dr. B.R Ambedkar had often said, over a period of time and may reach a point where he feels that sometimes one has to take matters in his own hands in order to deliver justice, that’s a huge transformation in one’s character, though problematic, and that cannot just be given a reel space of mere 5-10 minutes for the audience to feel that what Mohan Rao does is right. Knowing that Mohan Rao has followed his advice of leaving his criminal ways and leading a life in the footsteps of Ambedkar, why would Sebastian want Mohan Rao to come back from his normal life and kill two people and get back to his violent past? Didn't Sebastian indeed want Mohan Rao to change his ways and live a good life? Why make him a criminal again? Why wouldn't he do it all by himself if he feels that justice wasn't delivered in the case? Why use Mohan Rao for doing something that he wanted to achieve? An ending like in the case of 'Erra Mandaram', a wonderful film from the 1990s, was a possibility for this film, but why didn't the director think of it or something smarter like that? The way it ends is very convenient and contrived. Such ineffective writing!

I hate to be so harsh towards ambitious debut directors with an alternate voice, but truth has to be said for one’s own sake. From a filmmaking point of view, Palasa is an immature one. I would rather sit at home and read an article on stories of discrimination than watching films like that. I feel very painful when bad films are made on important topics such as caste-based discrimination. I am someone who waits so much for alternate films in Telugu, but when I watch films like Palasa or Onamalu, I often get confused. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad coz these films are sold in the disguise of good films and I personally feel films like these are more bad news than plainly bad films.

The only positives for me from the movie are Jagadish, who played the brother of the female protagonist, Raghu Kunche and Thiru Veer as actors. They performed brilliantly in their roles. If the director of Palasa only wanted to make loud political statements, then he is successful, but if his intention was to make an engaging film, then he should watch ‘Periyerum Perumal’ and ‘Fandry’ some 10 times before he attempts a similar one next time!

I walked out of theatre realizing that our own ‘Periyerum Perumal’ in TFI is a long-distance dream .

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