Gargi Movie Review: Sai Pallavi, focused writing are stunning in this legal drama
'Gargi' is so purposive and sincere that even seemingly dry lines spoken in the courtroom hit hard.
Cast: Sai Pallavi and others
Director: Gautam Ramachandran
Run-Time: 137 Minutes
'Gargi' (released in Tamil and Telugu today) could well turn out to be a sleeper hit of the season, much like R Madhavan's gripping and moving 'Rocketry: The Nambi Effect'. As a whodunit, 'Gargi' creates tension and thrills without manufacturing contrived plot points. As a courtroom drama, it keeps the audience guessing as the pendulum moves from the public prosecutor to the defence lawyer, back and forth, in an organic fashion. Usually, our films dumb down the legal jargon, or worse still, parade hilarity in the name of courtroom trials. 'Gargi' is a rare film that respects the genre and honours knowledge.
Gargi (Sai Pallavi) is a school teacher whose father Brahmanandam (RS Shivaji) works as a security guard at a residential complex. One fateful day, the father doesn't return home after duty. Gargi sets out to find his whereabouts, only to realize that her father has been arrested in connection with the rape of a nine-year-old girl. Four others have also been arrested. There is palpable anger among the public and the media is baying for the blood of the accused. In this context, with none to help her, the daughter has to secure legal help for her dad, who may have been arrested because he is economically and socially vulnerable.
Indrans (Kaali Venkat) is natural in the role of a supposedly incompetent lawyer who argues for Brahmanandam when the whole world, including the legal system, is pitted against the accused. Sai Pallavi shines in every scene and her performance is as magnetic as it was in the recent 'Virata Parvam'. She is superlative in the scenes where she cries; you can feel the headache she is going to have after the wailing.
'Gargi' is so purposive and sincere that even seemingly dry lines spoken in the courtroom hit hard. "It's not about what you know, it's about what you can prove," is an example. A film that infantilizes the audience wouldn't be in a position to convey as much.
Shame and confusion, helplessness and hope and a few other emotions/themes have been handled remarkably. The shifts in Gargi's moods are captured well. The TRP-hungry media, which may be bad most of the times, can also be right at times.
Saravanan, as the victim's father, looks ominous in a particular scene. Jayaprakash, as a senior lawyer, is apt. Kavithalaya Krishnan, Livingston, and Aishwarya Lekshmi (in an extended cameo) are good. The transgender judge is a character we fall in love with.
Govind Vasantha's music suits the flavour of the film; it neither adds frills nor does it take away from the film. The cinematography by Sraiyanti and Premkrishna Akkatu is efficient.