Paradesi, a movie that I wouldn't recommend to anyone, but I still loved it. Why? Because its not really a movie and anyone who walks into the theatre expecting to see a movie will be utterly disappointed. In my opinion, Bala's latest creations are somewhere between a movie and a documentary. Its partly movie because the story is fictional and probably slightly exaggerated and unreal even. Its partly documentary because it gives us a glimpse into the life of a society which exists beyond our eyesight or at least, used to exist. It puts us in their shoe, makes us feel their pain and resets our perspective forever - exactly what a documentary is supposed to do.
In Paradesi, Bala continues to move away from a character based story to a story about a community. The main characters are simply a tool. A tool used effectively to take us through the life of that particular community. The movie reminds us about people who are less fortunate than us. It reminds us to be content with our lives because our troubles pale in comparison to theirs. I'm not suggesting that we are too comfortable or too wealthy or that we should give up our money and go live in a hut. I'm simply suggesting that we should remember the feeling of being unfortunate in life. Remember it during sorrow to lessen the burden, remember it during happiness to add to the pleasure, remember it while making decisions so that we make the right choice.
As negative and sad as Bala's movies are, I see it as positive. Take Paradesi for example. The ill treatment, the lack of means to make a decent living, the lack of social and civil rights. This was once the status of a lot of societies; not all societies, but many. For all we know, such societies still exist, but far less than before and in a far better state than this. As a society, we have come a long way forward; we are of course not perfect, but we are far better than we were before. The very fact that we live in a society that feels that this is awful to watch even in a movie, should be proof enough that we have come a long way.
There was another surprising element in the movie. It made me realize what Independence meant to the real people. Independence wasn't about who was the head of the country or which anthem we sang in the schools. Independence was simply a step forward in the long road to better rights and a fair society. We are still travelling in that road, but this movie reminds us that we have come a long way. Taken in the right perspective, it should remind us to keep moving forward.
P. S. To the few who have seen the movie, the last shot was just mind-blowing! Not the beauty of the scenery but the meaning of the shot.