Peranbu movie review: There’s a lot of heart in this delicately textured moving drama

Peranbu movie review: With Peranbu, director Ram takes a road less travelled. And aesthetically, it is his best film thus far.

A few minutes into Peranbu, you realise there is much more to the story of a single father Amudhavan (Mammootty), whose whole world is his daughter Paapa (Sadhana). Paapa isn’t your normal teenager. She has cerebral palsy, and is, in fact, too afraid to even let her father close. Ram, as a director, has an easy way of slipping in the details and takes you through the emotions of each character step by step.

In a series of shots, he establishes the relationship between an emotional father, who still tries to understand his daughter. Amudhavan is very caring, but Paapa doesn’t get all that. She is just scared.

She doesn’t eat when Amudhavan is next to her. She often locks herself inside the room and is away from his sight. It doesn’t look like a breezy father-daughter relationship we usually see in films — at least in the beginning. She doesn’t know how to behave. She throws tantrums. She freaks out, uncontrolled.

The director describes this situation best in a voice-over: “Sooriyanum paniyum maadhiri vasikka thodanginom.” (We started living like sun and snow).

Amudhavan does everything possible to make his daughter feel comfortable, but nothing really works. After they move into a tastefully-done house made of wood, things slowly change. Paapa starts trusting her father. They bond over nature, birds and a white horse. Though the film is set amidst scenic visuals of lakes and fog, you see Paapa in a closed room — behind the grilled windows, and you know why.

Peranbu is divided into more than 10 chapters and each one describes a phase of the father-daughter relationship, drawing parallels between life and nature. Some of the chapters are titled — ‘nature is brutal’, ‘nature is love’, ‘nature is full of surprises’, ‘nature is unpredictable’, ‘nature is ever-evolving’ and so on.

Nature is also a character, the driving force and that’s how Ram contextualises the film that adds more heft to it. Peranbu discusses one of the most sensitive things and an under-explored theme in films — female sexuality of a girl affected by cerebral palsy, and how as a parent, one learns to cope with society. Amudhavan doesn’t complain, not even once. Instead, he realises how gifted he is to take care of his daughter, who is a spastic child. He knows she gets wild over the smallest things. Talk about the frustrations of being not fully understood. Sigh. Anger is pretty much a part of their expression because the differently-abled can’t easily camouflage their feelings.