After Unaru, the ‘least Mani Ratnamesque Mani Ratnam film’, let’s look at a film that’s arguably the least Priyadarshanesque Priyadarshan film. Of course Kanchivaram, the director’s most acclaimed film, comes close too, but in Sila Samayangalil/Sometimes, his intent to make his most different film is more obvious. In other words, it’s Priyadarshan’s attempt at making a film without relying on his signature, choosing instead to borrow a world cinema aesthetic and style to tell this story (it’s also his most minimalist film yet).
Of course, his decision to handle the subject matter with deserved seriousness is obvious right from the first shot, but you don’t once doubt the veteran director’s attraction towards the plot. Given that it’s about a group of people awaiting test results in a laboratory after having been told that one of them has tested positive for HIV, you can see how the same filmmaker, in a different mood, would have gone all guns blazing to turn it into a comedy that has us laughing at these characters and their plight.
In Sometimes, there’s no judgement as we zoom in closer to understand these people and their lives. Even though it relies heavily on dialogues (discussing everything from religion to death) and the performances, the film still manages to keep building tension with the arrival of the test results proving to be the ticking time bomb. Even in scenes where there’s room for humour, there’s always a subtlety we rarely see in the works of this director’s other works (remember Nimir?). If you can look past the film’s unabashed detour into complete PSA mode and all the talking directly to the audience in the form of spreading awareness, it offers engaging performances by both Prakash Raj and Ashok Selvan, who hold the film together. Given our present situation, the film really gives voice to a lot of our concerns that keep coming up, getting us closer to the mindset of thousands of people in a similar situation, waiting to see if the results come out positive or negative.