Excerpts from an interview between Mari Selvaraj and Baradwaj Rangan
Is Jo an ignorant character, or is she just innocent?
Jo’s innocence also has a lot of faith. Her faith is exploited parental love that is sinister… it’s conditional love. Jo’s character was designed to depict that. In fact, it was to ensure that the Jos in front of the screen get it. They should understand the nasty world that is constructed for them behind their backs. The point of Jo’s character is to show how men in the family use love to manipulate women.
But she never finds that out in the film…
Jo doesn’t. But other Jos in front of the screen know. For Pariyan’s success, Jo remains Jo in the film.
Letting the angel remain an angel…
If he had told her… she would have confronted her father, asked him if he was a good father…
Jo’s life would have ended there. She would have lost hope. His intention was to ensure Jo stayed the angel she was. It’s very simple for him to talk to her about it, but why I believe he shouldn’t is because Jo is an unbelievable miracle for Pariyerum Perumal. She was like glass, he wouldn’t want to break her. He would lose his faith too. I wouldn’t have been able to finish the film if Jo had come to know. As I come out of the theatre, the only consolation I have is that Jo is well. After I wrote the script, I realised Jo was the only person who was peaceful. The film is dedicated to her.
The ‘thatha’ character, the villain, murders in public. Why not secretively?
The reason why I wanted the killings to happen in public view was because only a murderer knows that the victim is about to die. He doesn’t decide that from his place, he observes where the victim lives and decides. When he kills in public, he is killing innocence… he is not killing his direct enemy. I wanted to show that innocent people are murdered. Then, the question is how their deaths are portrayed. When I connected the two, I decided that it must happen at a public place. Typically, we don’t really care if a dog lies hurt by the side of the road, but we definitely would if it were a man. Such people think their victims don’t even deserve to live, and in that sense, think of them as dogs. I wanted to depict how people react when a murder is committed publicly, how the murderer takes it forward. When everyone else watches the victim in pity, he enjoys it. He wants to see people weep for the victim; he finds pleasure in it. It’s denoting something that’s present in society
Thatha kills himself. It didn’t seem like a spur-of-the-moment decision. Did he really reform before dying?
I decided not to make Pariyan a murderer. He has big dreams. I didn’t want someone like that becoming a murderer. I cannot imagine someone living peacefully after murdering someone, because my parents brought me up like that. So, Pariyerum Perumal cannot be a murderer at any cost. He is against injustice, and that’s enough. And it’s enough if the enemy could be made to realise his mistake. That was my biggest aim. That’s the reason why ‘thatha’ isn’t murdered by Pariyan. I decided to write ‘thatha’ as someone with caste pride… the problem is between Pariyan and Jo’s family. If Jo’s family hadn’t approached it through the lens of caste, ‘thatha’ would not have entered the picture. So, if two people speak to each other, there’s no need for a third person, in this case, caste.
If we discussed contradictions and injustices in society with each other, the third person would become irrelevant. He would realise his uselessness and perish. People asked me if it was okay that he killed himself bravely. They asked me if he should die like a samurai, even while he hasn’t reformed. I wanted Pariyan and Jo’s father to talk. I did not care whether ‘thatha’ dies before or after reforming himself. I care about the two people who want to live. I don’t care how ‘thatha’ died. He has lived for 65 years… With his terrible caste pride, it was enough for me that he died in the end.
The film is visually interesting. Where did you learn that aspect of filmmaking?
Visually, I wanted Pariyerum Perumal to be like a dream. Maybe, that’s what you’re referring to. I believe it’s important. Irrespective of whether they liked it or not, I wanted the film to get into people’s heads. They might not like the story, me, Ranjith…but they would like the way it’s made. Then, at least a drop of the ideas in the film will reach the viewer.