The ingrained casteism that has been normalized in our society is the focus of the film Neelamudi, which sort of takes the attire of vlogging to make its politics accessible to the next generation who think they have risen above the old school thinking and are setting an example to the past and future. The beauty of this movie, purely on a craft level, is in the way it decided to use the medium of selfie video vlogs and let people understand the traces of casteism that exist inside all of us. With the movie never trying to establish its politics in an in-your-face manner, Neelamudi, aka Blue Hair, deserves to be appreciated.
So the film is primarily about a gang that has one guy named Sidhu doing vlogging on a very famous YouTube channel. He narrates all his activities with his three friends, Paari, Sony, and Kannan in his vlogs. The gang’s plan to surprise Kannan on Independence Day with a prank and how that unfolds is what we see in Neelamudi.
Spoilers Ahead! Every member of the gang calls Kannan, Adima (slave). When Sidhu’s father questions that problematic nickname, they sort of justify that decision to call him Adima saying it’s just a name they use among friends. Just when you think the father, who is about to be the library secretary, is a politically sensitive progressive man, director Sarathkumar adds another vlog where this man addresses the “damage” caused to the upper class because the Dalits were made aware of their rights. When the friends decide to spend a full day at the mall with Kannan’s money, the attitude towards the scholarship money is like some sort of undeserving charity. The obedience or ignorance of the previous generation can be seen in the pivotal prank vlog where Kannan’s mother can’t even differentiate between bullying and friendship. The makers also make us realize that Kannan is more of an outsider to the gang, as the remaining three are mostly together.
Everything that I mentioned above is all done in a very real and subtle manner. If you show this movie to an extremely politically insensitive youth, they might find it an untidy compilation of some funny vlogs. The political layer is infused into the main theme with such care. What was impressive about the vlogs was that it wasn’t really trying to mimic or exaggerate any existing vlogger, and hence, they felt very authentic as the characters weren’t deliberately made insensitive.
Sreenath, who plays the vlogger in the film, is really fluent, and he understands the tonality of such a character, and the portrayal never slips into that caricature zone. Majeed P Haneefa and Adhithya Baby, the constant companions of the vlogger, were also real, and the performances were pretty organic. Subramanyan, who played the role of Kannan, was also pretty impressive in his part. Achuthanandan, who plays the role of the vlogger’s father, is the only familiar face in the movie.
The duration of the film is hardly 80 minutes. And if you look at the film’s abrupt ending, you can argue that a better version of shock could have made it much more impactful. But despite those issues, which I feel were mainly due to the indie movie budget constraints, Neelamudi manages to be impressive simply because of honest filmmaking and the purity of its craft. If you are a sucker for innovative indie movies that sort of uses its weakness as its uniqueness, do try to watch this movie if it gets a wider release in the future.
If you are a sucker for innovative indie movies that sort of uses its weakness as its uniqueness, do try to watch this movie if it gets a wider release in the future.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended