The movie Chithha, directed by SU Arun Kumar, is an emotional drama about the bonding between an uncle and his niece. But what is fascinating is how it consistently deviates from the predicted trajectory to provide a compelling theatrical experience. When I say trajectory deviation, I am not talking about jarring plot twists. SU Arun Kumar has even questioned the masculine gaze of movies of this nature to make Chithha cinematically fresh and emotionally disturbing.
As you can guess from the title and promos, the film is about Eeswaran, aka Eesu and Sundari. Eeswaran’s brother died when he was in 12th, and ever since then, he has been taking care of his sister-in-law and his niece. Their bond is super cool, and he is highly protective of Sundari. The movie talks about a major event in their life when Sundari goes missing, and everyone suspects the involvement of a serial pedophile. Eeswaran’s relentless efforts to find his niece is what we see in Chithha.
SPOILER ALERT! When you analyze the writing of this movie, it is really smart to use those emotional bits. When you see one of the young girls leaving in that auto-rickshaw, you kind of sense what might happen to her. But Arun Kumar never hints that this could make our hero’s life a hell. After that twist, you expect the movie to be in that grey space. But what you think will happen in the climax of the movie sort of happens very early in the film. This regular demolition of the predicted path makes it uneasy to watch (in a positive way). This pattern is followed in the second half as well, but the nature of the twist is not the same.
As the title character, Siddharth is really living the life of Eesu. Be it those initial moments of banter humor with the kid or the extremely distressed second-half quest, he pulls off the anxiety and rage in Sundari’s Chithha with great conviction. Sahasra Shree as Sundari is also brilliant, especially in the second half, where she depicts the various stages of the trauma through which her character goes through. Anjali Nair gets a meaty role as the mother of Sundari. Nimish Sajayan’s part felt more like a tool to make the main character have a past life. But I really liked how they used that character to convey some of the politics of this movie. The young girl who performed the part of Ponni, the actor who played the role of SI Vadivelu, and the guy who portrayed the nameless antagonist were all convincing in their roles.
More than visual craft, I would say SU Arun Kumar’s writing is the one thing that makes us interested in the plot development. Just when you feel the movie is going on that familiar trajectory of vigilante justice, he uses the character Shakti to assert the importance of support for someone who went through childhood abuse. The way Shakti shivers depicts the degree of trauma she had to go through and gives us a context about her equation with Eesu. This non-preachy and dramatically heavy writing elevates this film into a different league altogether. I could hear deep breaths from the people around me in the audience, and it is rare to get movies with sensitive themes not going so loud about the avenging part.
Even though it has the structure of a thriller, the biggest takeaway from the story is the idea of empathy. The very first scene of the movie has Nimisha Sajayan, and the very end of the film has Sahasra Shree. And interestingly, the relation “Chithha” has significance in their life. Rather than being a hero-saves-the-day kind of escapist storytelling, Chithha stays in reality and asks us to face things with some compassion.
NB: Due to minimal shows and heavy rain, most of the shows in the city didn’t happen for the last few days. That’s why there is a delay in catching this movie. Thank you, Gandhiji, for making this happen.
Rather than being a hero-saves-the-day kind of escapist storytelling, Chithha stays in reality and asks us to face things with some compassion.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended