People wonder what happens to college lovers - " hey you guys were so thick , did you get married" ?
Most college romances are very unlike film stories, they dont end so happily. Usually the boy gets cold feet or the girl thinks its not worth it, chiding it was just infatuation.
Its an interesting what-if scenario when such a couple meet later in life in a setting where they are cruising happily through middle age balancing careers, home and usually a young kid.
Pularum Iniyum Naalegal - charts that scenario as naturally as possible without wavering into drama or unintentional romanticization or twists. That honest simplicity in a screen space shared by only 2 characters in a fairly non striking landscape of Abu Dhabi and keeping the audience engaged by focusing on their conversation to shine a mirror into their lives is a directorial triumph that a 2 film old Shilpa Krishnan Shukla should be proud of.
Yes there is a driver who also got the team the shooting permission in UA and a waitress who serves coffee dubbed in a Hitchcockian voice by the director herself ( I am already collecting this trivia when we will have Shilpa's wiki page).
Pularum Iniyum Naalegal - ( there will always be tomorrow) tells the story of Antony and Durga who meet after many years in Abu Dhabi when both of them have a spare day from their business trip. Antony ( Balaraman Kundarava) stays in Australia and Durga ( Gayathri Gopa) in Qatar and they just meet at a coffee shop of the hotel. Many years ago , Antony and Durga had planned to elope and Durga did not turn up at the railway station.
When Antony asks the question on why didnt she turn up on that day , we see its information he is seeking and not redemption . She also says it in a way as if it was a bit too much to expect. Here the signal is clear - both have moved on and forgiven and forgotten.
Now what - there is still a movie to be made right? I think this is where the movie shows its progressive self , by weaving the narrative in a manner where we through the movies characters reflect on questions that we may discuss over a beer with close friends - what do we fear, , whats our world view , how we say things to our spouse in a way , why we give up our passions when one becomes a mother or father .
The track where it surfaces that Durga is a woman trading off her passion to be a dancer to nurture her kid and pushing her child to take up her dream is expertly handled . Antony being pushy at first but coaxing her at the end and when we see practising dance steps at the hotel she is staying gives us the hope and inspiration to many. Similarly there is Durga's Antony who feels his wives engrossment with just their kid and how to break her out of it. Like most directors, I feel there is some self-reflection in these parts and the reason why probably it comes out so well on screen. We introspect alongwith the characters without being burdened by it.
The two characters share an evening , understand each other , have conversations about the world, Durga has an entire storehouse of Arabic sayings ( I was surprised there are so many) that she uses to good effect and give each other something that they take back to their lives in a more positive way. But they dont end up adding each other on Facebook or exchange contacts to keep it uncomplicated yet savouring their maturity to believe that their tomorrow is promising. And thats where the movie stays true to it title and consistent to its treatment, again a big directorial plus.
This level of engagement would not have been possible if the actors werent so consummate. Balaraman Kundarava is understated , almost playing the role as if he was never affected by the incidents of his youth and displaying maturity beyond his acting age. It has taken me this movie to whole heartedly appreciate Gayathri - where she binds the movie in a way that she is the protagonist and driving force where Antony is more the mirror . It again shows the confidence of the director and the crew that they knew they could pull this when major movies have failed - e.g Anjaana Anjaani. There is not a dull moment.
As a movie that has won over 11 awards in various international film festivals and still counting, Pularum Iniyum Naalegal makes us long for a tomorrow where Shilpa makes a full length feature film. My only feedback as a 'critic' to her would be not get constrained by the economy of shooting schedule while scripting and the masala guy in me would love to see a plot with more characters .