Onna Vida: Because Being Together Is Enough!

Celebrating the sensual delight that this masterpiece is…

-Mani Prabhu

The piece works best when it’s read with the track playing in the background.

It’s so quiet that all he could hear are her laboured breaths.

And then, there is this startling crackling of her necklace, caught under his neck.

They shudder for a moment, almost losing themselves to the unexpected rustle. But again, she smiles.

He responds with a sultry twinkle and pulls her closer.

Her body is now almost interlaced in his. Just like the creepers braiding themselves under water. For a moment, you imagine an invisible rope tying them down together. She seems lost… somewhere within him, only to find herself reveling in the drift.

அல்லி கொடிய காத்து அசைக்குது
அசையும் கொளத்துக்கொடம்பு கூசுது
புல்லரிச்சு பாவம் என்னை போலவே அலை பாயுது!

The union of their souls. It now seems like the inevitable.

They lay bare, eating into each other, beneath the moonlit sky, enveloped by the stars.

He slithers over her neck. She doesn’t resist. But, she swerves a wee bit.

A gasp breaks into a fiery kiss.

She can now feel his heart-beat on her chest. Does it bother her? Or is it the wet embrace?

He nibbles on her earlobes for a while, as she crumbles in passion. The sensual breeze adds to her torment.

நிலவில் காயும் வேட்டி சேலையும்
நம்மை பார்த்து சோடி சேருது
சேர்த்து வைச்ச காத்த துதி பாடுது சுதி சேருது!

What must be running in her mind, as he pauses to whisper his love in her ears, tightening his grip around her waist, all the while?

A shiver sizzling down her spine, she retracts her head a bit, and manages a half-simper.

He murmurs a little louder, letting his wet lips linger over her hair-line for an extra second, making sure that she gets the playful scorn.

It works. She instantly gives in to the charm. As the ripples get quicker, she pulls harder at his torso, letting her finger-nails run through his bare shoulders, all the way down to his palpable sacrum.

என்ன புது தாகம்…
அனல் ஆகுதே என் தேகம்!

He trembles instantly, giving out a muffled wail – a complicated series of agonized, rising vowels – and as if realizing the unintended breach of quietude, tries to hide it in a manly quiver and loosens his grasp a little.

Has she touched one of his ‘spots’ unknowingly? Had she gripped him too tight? 

And the next moment, their eyes meet briefly, begging for an explanation.

Enough of all the strokes and the tease… Her gaze screams. He didn’t hear it. But, it’s loud and clear, resounding through the shaggy ends of the tall branches.

Between the unlikely sweat in the coldness of the silvery waters, and the slippery rocks – random pieces of clothing scattered on the banks – they consume their love in the shallows, underneath a blanket of stars.

யாரு சொல்லி தந்து வந்தது…
காணா கனா வந்து கொல்லுது
இதுக்கு பேரு தான் மோட்சமா!

How would it be if none of this ever ended? The love, the passion, the overwhelming sense of completion…

As she loses herself in the sensual haze, that’s probably the only thing she could think of.

உன் கூட நான் கூடி இருந்திட
எனக்கு ஜென்மம் ஒன்னு போதுமா..
நூறு ஜென்மம் வேணும், கேட்குறேன் சாமிய!

Kodai Kaala Kaatre: A Burst of Blissful Nostalgia!

Celebrating the song that a generation, warming up to sophomore first-love, went crazy about…

-Mani Prabhu 

The piece works best when it’s read with the track playing in the background.

You remember that third-semester college trip to Kodaikanal, when you were clinging on to last row of the bus with your horde, immersed in the glorious boys’ ruckus, and she, for no particular reason, turned back, giving that piercing stare and you almost froze in the middle of that “ohhhhhhhh” that was dedicated to someone you can’t finitely recall…

Did she know then that you liked her? Was it some sort of an affectionate nudge, so that she could get the point across and also maintain a ‘decorum’ before her friends?

Thinking of it, did she mean anything at all? To you? To your teenage sentiments?

The tea-shop incident on the thirteenth hairpin-bend didn’t help, right? To make things clearer.

When you were passing the hot glasses one by one, getting each one from the sweater and monkey-cap clad master at the counter, and she standing next to you, holding every cup just for a little more, letting your fingers graze over hers for an extra split-second, all the while, holding onto a mockingly reactionless face…

What kind of “tease” was that?

That inebriated look that wouldn’t descend from your face, as you tried sipping your tea, walking up to that lonely boulder – a good two hundred hundred meters from where your bus was parked! “Dude, you got stoned?”  That confused guy’s doubt still rings in your ears, doesn’t it?

While you were staring at the mountains that seemed less mysterious compared to her that day, did she steal a moment’s gaze from the other side of the road?

How simple would it have been if it had ended there! For you. And for the world around.

But did it? Why should the rotis be over, all of a sudden, before you could finish your crazy photo-shoots and come take your plateful, on the lunch-spread in the lawns, the second day? Why should she notice that, in the hustle of all that compelling girly chit-chat… walk all the way from her gang, and offer you a couple? Why should you, despite having your favourite chicken curry already on the plate, deny at first, then take them and scurry back to your pack as fast as your legs could carry!

Were you indeed, somewhat special to her, in that bunch? Was something truly bursting out? As if, from a cocoon?

You could have known better, if only had she chosen to talk, instead of merely lifting her hands clearly in your direction, as if coaxing you to pull her on to the Dolphin’s nose, when there were at least twenty other boys around, only happy to help. But did she?

All these could have just been a loner’s romantic reverie if only… Yes, if only had she not stared into your eyes that way, straight through the flicker of the bonfire on the gardens of the youth hostel, on the third and final night of that fateful trip.

But alas!

Life had to get back to normal. Destiny had to give that sarcastic sigh.

Lectures, purely work related lab meets, gleeful hi-fis in elaborate birthday bashes, benign beach photographs with loads of feigned comfort, ridiculous doubts about the bare basics to just-pass the painful internals, all these and more.. but, if only had she told what was running in her mind, before you came to know, on a random sixth semester evening that she was going steady with the lead-singer of your college band.

Reality had to give that confusing slap. That was the “design”.

Irrespective of the kind of practical ‘so-so’ that transpires in this story from then on-wards… when after a couple of decades, you drive up Kodai in your car with this song playing in the stereo, you will look back fondly at all these images playing out in retro wave freeze-frames, and realize in a moment of gooseflesh-worthy nostalgia, why all these had to happen.

Till then, hang on. Life is good with Raja around.

The Punnagai Mannan Theme: A Fitting Demonstration of the Riveting Dance of Life!

An attempt at making sense of the Raja-KB duo’s evergreen masterpiece, the ‘Punnagai Mannan’ theme…

-Mani Prabhu

The piece works best when it’s read with the track playing in the background.

Sethu, the lone survivor of a dreadful suicide-attempt, almost dies a second time when he is absolved of all his murder-charges and denied a death sentence.

Wait… What?

This piece of information, as a string of words, might do no justice to the gravity of the situation we are talking about, but try putting yourselves in the shoes of the man, whose world had collapsed in a freaking moment like a deck of cards, and slowly, the unsympathetic play of destiny dawns on you.

A couple of weeks back, he was found, battered and almost-dead, unwillingly hanging on to his unlikely savior – a destined branch. Now, his entire life hung in the air.

Why should death evade you, when it embraces the one you thought you couldn’t live without?

The more you think of it, the more it makes life seem unapologetically muddled.

The clock answers? That really must be some bull, an unrealistic optimist made up out of thin air. Doubt it? Ask Sethu.

A year in prison doesn’t change much. The nightmares continue, even after the release.

Most of his days stretch out, struggling to cope with the unsparing truth that the person who meant the world to him was no more, and on top of it, with the indelible social stigma of abetting an insanely imprudent decision.

To waddle through life, grieving a dear one, is one thing. But, waking up every morning alone in bed, only to be reminded that a moment of reckless impulse had made all the difference, is a whole new ball game.  The latter ends up killing you… again and again. And before you know, you are a zombie! 

Fortunately for Sethu, after a period of a near-aimless actuality, he stumbles upon a new lease of life in art.

How? It’s tough to explain.

May be, as you start gaining years and perspective, you tend to come to terms with this. What lasts, lasts; and what doesn’t, doesn’t. Time solves a few things, but when it doesn’t, you have to work with it.

And that, Sethu does, probably, the only way he knows.

He finds purpose again in his long-lost passion, teaching dance. And slowly, everything starts to feel a tad less suffocating. Is this what they call ‘healing’?

Or, is it just the mind, in an attempt at protecting its sanity, covering the wounds with stripes of scar tissue, making them temporarily numb?

Whatever it is… into this apparently single-minded existence of his, enters a woman.

The name is Malini. Bold. Beautiful. And quite an irresistible personality.

Why? He couldn’t fathom. For he wasn’t done fighting his inner demons yet. The excruciating memory-trips had doused a bit, but they hadn’t completely stopped either.

But the woman had come in, and was persevering to stay put.

Sethu seems to turn a blind eye to the brimming attention, but is the callousness just an excuse to hush his screaming alter-ego?

And suddenly one day, in a gooseflesh moment of heightened emotions, it all bursts, one by one.

First, the ruthlessly sculpted mask of indifference – something the man had so agonizingly garbed over months – to conceal his layers of vulnerability.

Next, his super-ego, exploding into some kind of a beast of an art-form!

It’s weird. Day after day, for months, you hang on to life; avoiding connections in any form… and nothing seems to change. And then, in a second, everything’s different.

He shoves her into a seat. “Clap”, he howls.

Raja starts working his magic.

The cymbals start setting up the tempo, and the beats mesmerisingly synchronize with the claps. The atmosphere turns subtly psychedelic.

And here, Haasan, giving absolutely no hint whatsoever at the brilliance to unspool, starts off with his near-hypnotic terpsichorean trip.

The actor immediately recedes to the background. All you can see is a bottled-up man, exploding his senses off.

The percussions go on a merciless rampage.

The gyrations seem to be emanating from somewhere deep within him, assembled from bits and pieces of his agony, that continue to be reframed, redefined and repurposed with every step. Words belie the sudden paroxysm.

Imaginably, it was about time that this happened.

His soul, perhaps, always knew what to do to heal itself. The challenge was to silence the haunting doubts.

But how did she manage to do it?

Was his ‘bubble’ made too heavy to endure even the slightest of proddings? Or was it, in a way, made flimsier by the day?

The man, in a graceful coup of sorts, displaces all his pent-up torment in an energy-outburst that flows like fluid through the room. It’s truly a sight to behold.

And when you are least expecting it, he picks her up in a breath-taking curvet around her seat, and freezes mid-way in the closed-position dance stance.  And for a moment – probably, the first time in the last one minute – their eyes meet.

The way she looks at him… it speaks a million words. She is shocked beyond emotions. She is scared. She is dumbfounded. But then, there is something else that reigns supreme, superseding the mixed barrage. She feels something that she had never before seen in his eyes.

May be, a glint of love. Or the likes of that. It could also be a shimmer of hope.

Raja’s orchestration, to put it in a nutshell, is astounding at this juncture.

Sethu gasps for breath from the sudden bout of insane ardour. But Malini knows she saw a thing, beneath all the feigned stoicism. The tension is palpable.

As he walks away to continue his graceful thandavam – staging a swift escape from his own ambivalence – he seems truly liberated one moment. And the next moment, he looks possessed. 

What is he possessed with? A form of sinful attraction? Undeserving warmth? Plaguing guilt?

Or is it the detonation of a fatal blend of self-reproach, fear, hesitation, and exhilaration – taking the form of his favourite art form?

Is there a personal masochistic perspective at play?

After another minute of operating at the brutal thresholds of emotional-snapping, Raja reaches a spectacular crescendo with Sethu finally pausing for breath, his hands around Malini.

Strained moments of dyspneic intimacy ensue.

What is he feeling?

Is it some form of exasperation? Or better still, unadorned anger? Of the inability of his heart to listen to reasoning.

He takes her into his arms soon after, a strange heat radiating between them. They flow in sync, the sweat gliding down their skin, each dance-move leaving them a little more breathless.

And Raja, in this last minute of complementary duet, embarks on a riveting penance, where the sensuality meter rises by the second.

If you had even been drunk purely on the dance form, you would know!

It’s almost like they are searching for answers in each other, and at times, even the questions that beget them. Sethu seems to be blooming from the wound; he once almost-fatally bled from. Malini seems to be watering the scars. He appears to be erupting like a long-dormant volcano, releasing himself from the clutches of self-restraint. She appears to be lost in the spark of the moment. Together, as they sway to the magic, they can’t tell if it’s killing them a little more or making them stronger.

But one thing is for sure. Wounds don’t heal the way you want them to; they heal the way they need to. This healing-moment that stretches between what you once were, and what you are now becoming, is where the dance of life actually takes place.

And understandingly so… as this one, made timeless by Haasan, Revathi, Raja, and KB, fittingly demonstrates.

Mozhi’s Archana: Truly, One of a Kind!

A tribute to the lead-lady of Mozhi, portrayed brilliantly by Jyothika, ten years post the film’s release…

Mani Prabhu

Yeah, the truth still stares us in the face.

The prospect of a real woman in flesh and blood – complete with all her obstinacy and insecurities – happening in our cinemas, and ending up not being judged for ‘being’ her self, continues to be slim.

But, Archana is that rare occurrence – someone you could bump into on a normal day, and be readily intrigued.

When Karthik first chances upon her, it is admiration at first sight, as he trips over her conviction to stand up for what she thinks is right.

You know that feeling when you inadvertently fall for something in someone, and you are instinctively smitten? It’s not about the appearance or the perfections. It’s something else. Many a times, it’s an indescribable aura. Well, it hits you when you are least expecting. Bulbs flicker. Bells resound. And you sort of realize that something in you yearns for their attention.

Karthik does. More so, when he learns three crucial details over the course of the week, all of which skyrockets his fascination for her. One, she happens to be deaf-mute. Two, she is averse to relationships in general, thanks to the deep scars her father’s desertion had left her with. And three, she lives in the same apartment as him.

Karthik gets introduced to her and attempts to strike up a friendship. They get along well, but as he warms up more and more to her enigmatic appeal, he just cannot stop himself from going crazy out of love.

Desperately wanting to impress her, he decides to learn sign-language out of the blue one fine day. He puts in a lot of effort to pick up the basics.

Things initially seem to fall in place. The girl is quite impressed. But Karthik’s new-found enthusiasm knows no bounds.  One day, in an emotional high, he tells Archana that it’s a beautiful feeling to be able to imagine her voice through their gestural interactions, something he had hitherto missed.  One look at his face beaming with love, and you instantly know that the man’s intentions are genuine.

Everything about the scene and the staging screams of a cutesy romantic moment. Years of cinematic experience had Pavlov-conditioned us to anticipate the heroine blushing her way into a sweet song.

But Archana is not that heroine.

She cuts him off midway. And looks daggers at him.

She is unable to come to terms with the fact that her friend had attempted to compensate for her disability by creating a rather convenient version of her persona.

“If you have to please me or some part of your self by imagining a voice every single time I speak , you might as well not talk to me at all!” she walks away.

Her belligerence almost borders on hardened rudeness. Yeah, she wants the people in her life to accept her the way she is. Fair enough, but could she have been a little patient and sensitive in explaining herself?

Why must she? She is daring and uncompromising. But she is not flawless.

Compromises and sympathy just won’t do. Not in her dictionary; in any form.

Her obstinacy and commitment issues make her a tough character to connect with. But that’s just her. One of a kind.

Kaadhal Kondein’s Ace Moment: Just Film-making Brilliance or a Dash of Meta?

A write-up on one of Selvaraghavan’s most scintillating scenes on the man’s birthday…

Mani Prabhu

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When the shoddy-looking Vinoth walks into a college classroom in an early sequence of Kaadhal Kondein, Selvaraghavan, the filmmaker seemed to hint at a peculiar kind of writing – one that spoke more to the soul than the cerebral neurons – an art he had arguably perfected over the course of his career.

In this stretch in Kaadhal Kondein, where we come to know more about the introverted Vinoth, Selva effortlessly turns the tables on us by making us root for the traumatized young genius – someone we and the entire class had viewed with loathsome indifference – moments earlier.

“How do these idiots even get into college? See the kind of reservation policies we are reeling under!” The professor sighs under his breath, spewing endless venom at the ilk Vinoth vaguely represents and the skewness of our selection policies – till the unkempt youngster, unsettled by the fleet of cold-stares that relentlessly drill into his bewildered psyche, manages to find a seat in a lone corner.

Soon, in a moment of tense unease, the professor luckily stumbles upon an excuse to plough on his deep-etched aversion for the shabby-looking guy. When he finds Vinoth stealing a measly-nap during his lecture, he readily humiliates him before the whole class by labeling him ‘undeserving’, and lay bares the scruffy guy’s apparently conspicuous nitwittedness.

The chalk-duster, thanks to the Professor’s rage, lands on Vinoth’s forehead painting half of his face, absurdly white. The boy stares ahead, unable to breathe, completely overwhelmed by this unexpected barrage of slurs. Blaming dunces like Vinoth as the cause for Engineering education never finding an ultimate ‘purpose’, the Professor challenges the befuddled boy to solve a problem, which had taken him two days to make sense of.

“Have you ever seen the equation in your life? Forget it. At least, go to the board and stand like a scarecrow. You could, at least, get to see some of the symbols for the first time!”

The scorching words resound through the room. We wait with bated breath for Vinoth’s reaction, as he stands there helpless, fear slowly eating into disgrace, like a deer frozen in front the headlights in a crowded Highway, chalk-speckles splintering off his countenance.

Poor guy! It’s quite a hard sight to take in. An orphan by circumstances, who had grown up in his own personal space, suddenly pushed into the judgmental claws of reality with unapologetic force! You half-wish a Hollywood ‘feel-good drama’ moment where the professor turns all benevolent, calls him back and gives him some gooseflesh pep talk in the lines of what you truly are is what you are in the inside.  Alas!

Just as the professor continues his never-ending dressing down, faint rustles echo through the room, which slowly escalate into unmistakable murmurs.

Yuvan’s soul-stirring background score now makes an artful appearance.

As Vinoth walks back to his spot with an unruffled shrug, after nonchalantly dissecting the equation into its core pieces on the blackboard, and continues his ‘thug life’ siesta – but not before returning the piece of chalk to the professor on his way – Selva seems to be making some sort of a statement.

There is much more to diffident, self-conscious introverts, than what meets the eye.

The chef-d’œuvree punch? The meta-ness of it all.

A smaller version of this piece was first published in http://www.iflickz.com

 

Aayirathil Oruvan’s “The King Arrives”: A Small Step for Parthiepan; A Giant Leap For Tamil Cinema!

A tribute to a phenomenally written and staged sequence by Selvaraghavan, on his birthday…

Mani Prabhu

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If you thought Pudhupettai was bold, you had to wait till Selva’s Aayirathil Oruvan to get a glimpse of film-maker’s maverick sensibilities as a writer.

Exactly at the half-way mark, Aayirathil Oruvan transforms into this unimaginable monster that consumes you scene by scene, moment by moment, till you are left strangled, gasping for air.

Believe me; it’s like nothing you had seen before.

The boundless darkness that lurks the bizarre settlements. The macabre milieu that screams of squeamishness in every blood-churning sight. A staggering counter-evolution – over centuries of physical and mental torment – forcing the ‘near-human’ inhabitants through the opposite spectrum of the Darwin’s scale in the Palaeolithic age. The starving savage-brutes who wouldn’t give a rat’s arse to turn cannibalistic. Their queasy moral compasses. Their nerve-shuddering rituals. Their idea of riotous celebrations. Horrific mob-manias at the slightest hint of the abstruse of conflicts. De-skinned war-prisoners that are used as foot-rests and dining stools! Primitive instincts slaying off societal niceties to start with, slowly proceeding to gorge on whatever humanity, that is left of.

The re-imagining of one of the most revered of Tamil dynasties (habitually portrayed as altruistic royals coated in blemish-less gold and silver) as a destined, reverse nature-selected rabble of grisly, blood-curdling barbarians – killing each other for food and survival – needs the guts of someone like Selva to see the light of the day. And what a priceless fortune that it did!

And more importantly what a spine-chilling spectacle, the whole thing turns out to be! This sequence, which happens right after the break, downright knocks our socks off with its horrifying intensity after the rather-formulaic first half.

Even as we are lead to beleive that the adventure trail would continue for another hour or so, with an escalation of Indiana-Jones  troupes, mind you, we are served this… with a disturbingly unsympathetic nonchalance. It’s like a sucker-punch to the guts. Trust me, it instantly feels dizzy. When you first see the blood-splattered slaves pulling the royal chariot in the background of the diabolical percussions and the looming shadows of the fire lamps, you could hear some blood vessels burst and your diaphragm almost collapse. The chaos is deafening.

And now it happens. It’s akin to a sinister orgy, albeit, one that is forcibly stripped off intercourse. Amidst psychotic cries of reverence, strange convolutions of the dance form and howls of long-gnawing indignation, the ‘king’ makes an appearance. The recurring fade-to-blacks and the intervening ghoulish imagery makes it look like a bad ‘speedball’ trip. You just hold to anything ‘grabable’ and stare ahead, shaking off the rocketing chills.

A crater of raw-animal flesh is brought to the arena. The ‘almost-walking-dead’ rush in like lifeless zombies, attempting to grab a mouthful. The guard slays the creatures, one after the other, with a vacant stare on his face. And now, the king takes on the baton with an alarming fanfare. Slaves are beheaded. Blood bathes the screen. And the man steps out on the reddish-brown wetness.  You jump out of your skin.

The king then goes on a brutal killing spree on some more voracious commoners, who are turning hysterical in ravenous hunger. A woman carrying a baby walks out to him, pauses a moment and squeezes her nipple. Blood squirts out. You instinctively look away. Words fail. It’s like being pulled into whole new world against your will, and a few nails thrust down your heart. Sometimes, it’s unbelievably painful. At other times, you realize that it’s just one of those fevered dreams.  The best parts are the times when you can’t tell the difference. That’s Selva for you, unleashing his magic, from a pedestal far far away from mainstream Tamil Cinema.

An ode to Muththazhagu – Paruthiveeran’s priceless asset!

An ode to Muththazhagu, the girl who nailed Ameer’s unapologetic visualization of a lovelorn and headstrong village-belle (two tricky traits that could go either ways in an atmosphere reeking of chauvinism), exactly a decade after the film’s release…

-Mani Prabhu

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Muththazhagu, the female lead of Ameer’s second film, is so disturbingly real that she keeps unsettling you on many levels. And that unsettling gnaw is one of the reasons, Paruthiveeran continues to fascinate, after almost a decade.

Over the course of the film, you could see her childhood fascination for her cousin (Veeran) eventually metamorphose into mad love.

And into this one hell of an impetuous ride, Priyamani breathes so much mood and texture that many a time, it’s easy to forget that she is a mere work of fiction.

This particular sequence, where she challenges her casteist father, face-to-face, over her decision to live with Veeran, is one for the ages.

It is late evening. Muththazhagu returns home after a tryst with her lover to see things a little ruffled at home. She guesses the obvious. Her dad, who had always nurtured a deep-seated hatred for Veeran and his family, must have seen them together.

As she walks past the man leaning back on his chair, making sure not to let her eyes linger anywhere near him, she instantly knows what to expect. The silence, that shatters the house, seems strangely familiar.

Feigning all the obliviousness that she could muster, she struts inside with a smug indifference. The clearly-seething man immediately summons her, and confronts her with the truth.

Muththazhagu, having known her father and his sensibilities long enough to realize the futility of any sort of reasoning, instinctively retaliates with a “Yes, so what?”

A prompt queasiness fills the moment. We gulp, half puzzled and half terrified. Why not a measly excuse, escaping the wrath of the moment?

But Muththazhagu has other ideas. She stands her ground, staring into her father’s eyes.

Acting out our worst fears, the man pours out all his pent-up anger, every blow landing on her with brutal force. “How dare you?” He literally stomps on her in a fit of rage. It’s savage, to say the least.

Between the pain in her gut and her ribs, and the sudden onslaught of unimaginable slurs, the sight of her father going insane, isn’t something she had definitely wanted to see. But before she could even manage to defend, the blows keep descending on her.

“Leave me alone!” Somehow Muththazhagu manages to scurry back on her feet. Inhuman and almost murderous by now, the man pushes her back to the ground. As she attempts to sit up, a verbal blame game between the father and the mother ensues.

We expect a squeal for mercy. At least, a heart-breaking imploration. We get none. Not even a half whimper.

She looks ahead, unfazed. Her face burns of an inexplicable grit. Of a deafening determination. Of an inscrutable lucidity. It’s terrifying. You could almost make a horror movie out of it.

“What the hell!” The man, exasperated with the girl’s silent defiance, slams her against a wall, and starts attacking her with an umbrella. The ‘father’ almost disappears. All you could see is a wild brute that gets more barbaric by the minute.

“For Christ’s sake, just say it aloud. Just say something, girl! What would you lose?”

She doesn’t budge an inch. Can such skanky unruliness be met with such clear resilience? It would take a Muthu to know. “I am going to kill you now!” Its gets almost impossible to keep watching. Nothing from her side other than piercing looks and deepening breaths! At some moment, absorbing all the trauma, she manages to get a hold on the umbrella and throws it away.

He spits at her face. Wiping it away, she gives him that cold stare. It’s shuddering.

Unable to take in the speechless resistance any more, the man walks away with a irate slap. It speaks a thousand more abuses.

Simultaneously she gets up, walks up to the dining mat, sits on the floor and serves herself the dinner vociferously. “Why are all you staring at me like that? I am still alive, and I am hungry!” Her helplessness resonates around the room. One look at Priya Mani – badly bruised but resolutely holding on to scattered bits of self-respect – even as she hysterically makes her grandma serve the whole of the meat, and you would know why she took home the National Award that year!