I read somewhere that Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" ends with a freeze frame and that this ending is entirely well deserved, compared to films that exploit that effect as a shortcut to an effective climax. I think it's safe to say that "Aruvi" lies in the same fold as Truffaut's venerable classic - it ends with a freeze frame that is both entirely well deserved and the only way this narrative could have effectively ended without ruining its carefully constructed emotional balance. Let's talk about the narrative first, for which we will have to talk about the film's premise. The film is about small town livelihood disrupted before one's aspirations ever had the chance to achieve clarity, let alone take flight. Aruvi experiences this, and then goes through varied forms of oppression and harassment that society usually offers girls. But then, in a quirky take on karma, she decides to revolt, takes matters into her hands, and churns things up not only for herself but for the folks responsible for her predicament.
If this sounds like the perfect setting for a pulpy revenge drama, the beauty of Aruvi is how the film becomes far from that. Writer-director Arun Prabhu Purushothaman not only takes us to very unprecedented spaces in terms of plot, but also surrounds the narrative around a thoroughly realized character that is as tangible as flesh, blood, and bones. The vulnerability, resilience, grit, and fragility he bestows on Aruvi spread through the rest of the narrative. Sure there is revenge involved but there is no monotony - no single minded directive that is sometimes the peril of many a revenge drama. It is almost documentarian in the way it lets this character unravel in its situations, letting her breath, and do the things and express the emotions found in a real person.
Aditi Balan is the indisputable flame in this film's sparkle, wonderfully intrepid in a role the kind of which are seldom written. Her tenacious turn as Aruvi, the film's richness in narrative, and the sheer gusto of pulling it off make the aforementioned freeze frame ending perfect - an endeavor to hold on to this perfect chemistry, a way to make the film's aftertaste linger on.
"Aruvi" is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Atlantic City says so much about two people in a relationship, without saying too much.
A comedy that is fun, while being just good cinema in the first place.