Review: ‘Gargi’ a gripping courtroom drama that exposes social ills

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Film: Gargi. Duration: 138 minutes (Releasing in theatres)

Director: Gautham Ramachandran. Cast: Sai Pallavi, Kaali Venkat, R.S. Shivaji, Saravanan, S. Sudha, Aishwarya Lekshmi and Livingston.
IANS Rating: ****

Director Gautham Ramachandran’s ‘Gargi’ is a fantastic court room drama that shines the light on several important issues plaguing the society today, including the often sidelined topic of child sexual abuse and the humiliation that the families of those accused of heinous crimes like rape have to undergo in the society.

A reasonably good understanding of the working of the judicial system in India seems to have enabled director Gautham Ramachandran to come up with a refreshingly fresh script that makes several pertinent points on a number of topics ranging from rape, child sexual abuse to transgender rights.

Gargi (Sai Pallavi) is a middle-class woman working in a school, who lives with her aged parents and younger sister. With her wedding on the verge of getting fixed, Gargi is concerned about dowry demands being made by the bridegroom’s side.

Nevertheless, she is in a happy frame of mind until one day news breaks out that the cops have arrested a fifth person in a sensational case pertaining to the gang-rape of a girl child.

Initially, Gargi pays little or no attention to the news but when her dad doesn’t return home that night and she gets to know that he, along with other employees at an apartment complex, have been taken in for questioning by the cops in connection with the gang-rape case, her heart skips a beat.

It doesn’t take long for her to be informed that her dad, a watchman at the victim’s apartment complex, is accused of being the fifth rapist.

Gargi begins her fight to prove that her dad is innocent. The odds are stacked against her and adding fuel to fire are mediapersons, who are constantly on the lookout for breaking news. She has no support other than a junior lawyer called Indrans (Kaali Venkat), who works part-time in a medical shop to make ends meet.

Together, they embark on the mission of proving Gargi’s dad’s innocence. Do they manage to prove his innocence? The film gives you the answer…

The film has three powerful performers vying with one another to take the top honours and that invariably lifts the film’s class to another level.

Sai Pallavi, who essays the titular role of Gargi, Kaali Venkat, playing her stammering lawyer, and S Sudha, who appears as a transgender judge, are all exceptionally brilliant in the film.

Kaali Venkat as lawyer Indrans, in particular, is simply outstanding. Indrans’s character is just admirable. As a man who has never been in the limelight, he is filled with fear at the prospective outcome of taking up a high profile case like that of Gargi’s dad.

But then, he also has the good sense to override his fears and in fact takes on not just his senior, but the entire bar association, to do what he thinks is right. In short, Kaali as Indrans delivers a thumping performance, stammering his way into the hearts of the audience.

Sudha, who plays the judge, is all class from the moment she appears on screen. She doesn’t ask for respect, her behaviour commands it. The authority with which she delivers her dialogues makes her character stand out.

Sai Pallavi delivers yet another stunning performance in this film.

As a caring daughter, as a dutiful sister, as a woman who will not desert a loved one who is in trouble, and finally as a responsible citizen who is concerned about truth triumphing, Sai Pallavi scores on all counts.

Gautham scores not only because of the story and the hard hitting dialogues of the film but also because of the visually powerful scenes that strongly communicate the message he is looking to convey.

Take for instance a scene in which Gargi is shown cleaning dung cakes hurled at her home’s compound wall. The scene subtly conveys the message that she has managed to wash away some of the dirt that was hurled at the family.

The climax of the film, strangely though, appears forced and reduces the intensity of the story by a considerable margin. Other than that, the film makes for a gripping watch. (IANS)

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