An arid landscape of a village on the outskirts of Madurai is the setting for this tortured love story between Paruthiveeran and Muthazhaga. Sultan relies on the long shadow cast by the colonial legacy of the Criminal Tribe Act of 1871 in his characterization of Paruthiveeran as a brutal social misfit who is hard to reform, and surely not a suitable husband. But this is precisely the love-struck Muthazhaga's mission, benighted and masochistic. A far cry from Bharthiraja's “nativity films” of the 1970s, known for their celebration of pastoral Tamil culture, Sultan's film has more in common with the escalating violence of Peckinpah's border westerns and the operatics of Vishal Bharadwaj's Hindi heartland westerns. But unlike these films, Paruthiveeran has little patience for the compositional stillness of panoramic shots or the rapid pace of linear analog editing. Rather, it deploys digital effects to amplify violence; this is cruel cinema in its essence.

-Lalitha Gopalan and Anuj Vaidya

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