All of Pa. Ranjith’s movies have been cultural documents and Sarpatta Parambarai is no different. He takes us to the boxing culture which was prevalent in the North Chennai and has set it against the political backdrop of Emergency era in the 70’s. It is a rousing sports drama which tells fierce rivalry between two boxing clans with some pulse pounding boxing action. It will defentiely leave you on a high with pure adrenaline rush.
Though the running time is almost 3 hours, Ranjith and team keeps it really intriguing with several compelling set pieces of conflicts and the seemless transition between each of these set pieces. The cultural and political backdrop gives a realistic and grounded feel to it. This is how the movie scores highly in keeping it fresh from other underdog sports dramas. The rivalry between each boxing clan is backed up with back stories of fierce boxing action and caste based discrimination. So a match becomes a matter of huge pride for the boxers, trainers and their supporters. The growing intensity is perfectly set to explode in the last act and it is hard to take your eyes off even for a second.
Pa. Ranjith’s association with G. Murali continues for the fourth film straight and their vision and rapport is clear in each and every frame. Production designer T Ramlingam and costume designs by Aegan Ekambaram are quite brilliant in setting the period. Santhosh Narayanan’s score is deliberately low key at so many places and it explodes at key moments which enhances the fights and underlying emotions remarkably.
The scripting is done by Ranjith and Tamizh Prabha and it is remarkable how the politics of the era is woven into the compelling sports narrative without ever over-playing it. Ranjith’s lady characters are once again strong. For the period or the neighbourhood he chooses, we least expect the ladies to be having their voices. But even in these setup, the characters and their responses seamlessly sync without even a bump. Again, quite remarkable writing!
A movie surely made for big screen, every scene has large number of people on the screen. The boxing scenes were shot with big crowds, loud cheering, tirades of abuse between the rival clans, the blood and sweat during the action sequences; all make it a visual spectacle just like a sports event. The fight scenes are brilliantly captured by Murali and edited by Selva RK as the broiling tension never dips even for a moment during these sequences. The movie starts with thanks to Muhammad Ali for being an inspiration on and off the field and the quick feet movement of our protagonist Kabilan is a tribute to the legend!
Aarya gives his cent percentage efforts for the character Kabilan. Though he fails to give the required depth to a couple of emotional scenes, he is quite brilliant as the naive young man who struggles to chose between his passion and mother. His efforts for the boxing sequences, both from physique and acting point of view, have also come out well. Pashupathy is the stand out performer in the movie. He gets every emotions, mannerisms and expressions of the boxing coach cum politician spot on while portraying Rangan Vathiyar. John Vijay also does a brilliant job as Kevin aka Daddy with the character producing some genuine fun and dialogues in the movie. Shabeer Kallarackal as Dancing Rose has to be the surprise package of the movie with actor producing some fine moments and even outperforming the character’s build up with his exploits in the boxing ring. Rose turns out to be like one of those most lovable player in a rival team!
Kalaiyarasan is excellent as Vetriselvan and John Kokken as Vembuli is terrifying in the initial stages. Dushara Vijayan as Mariyamma and Sanchana Natarajan as Lakshmi are both remarkable in their brief roles. Anupama Kumar as Kabilan’s mother gives you the feeling of over-playing the character. This particular character and Aarya’s couple of emotional scenes are the only misadventures in the whole movie perhaps.
Sarpatta Parambarai is an intriguing sports drama which is seamlesslessly integrated into a cultural and political backdrop. It is Ranjith’s best movie in his already brilliant filmography and the one that I am surely going to revisit several times in the future!