Sai Pallavi has become a household name across India for her extraordinary performances. Put her in any film, she’d come out with flying colours. In her upcoming film, Gargi, she has outdone herself in portraying the role of a doting daughter (Gargi), who tries hard to save her dad Brammanandam (RS Shivaji), the fifth accused in a rape case.
Gargi opens with a casual introduction scene where Sai Pallavi is conducting an exam at the school she works. She has a mundane life. Her dad is a security guard at an apartment and her mom is a housewife with a small business. They come from a lower middle-class family, content with what they earn and living in their own house. But their lives turn upside down when the police arrest her dad accusing him of raping a nine-year-old child with four others. Gargi is shaken but has not given up. She takes the help of lawyer Indrans Kaliyaperumal (Kaali Venkat) to fight the case. He has stammering issues and this is his first case ever. Will Gargi be successful in freeing her dad? Will she learn the truth behind the gang rape?
On the surface, Gargi looks like an emotional story. But, it has more layers to it and that’s what keeps the audience hooked. The evidence against Brammanandam is so strong, but there’s also a twist there. The police and the public prosecutor are enraged with the accused and do all their bit to get them behind bars. It is Indrans, with all his inexperience and his fresh eyes, who finds the loopholes (in this case, lack of evidence against him) to get him bail and then eventually free him from the case.
For a film that deals with sexual abuse, Gargi is sensitive and empathetic. It doesn’t get too graphic while showing the gang rape scene, nor does it show the face of the child. Gargi feels terrible for what had happened to the child, but she also knew that she cannot let that get in her way while fighting for her dad.
There’s a transperson judge who oversees the case. The public prosecutor ridicules her, saying the case would have been closed if it was a ‘normal person.’ The judge retorts saying, “I know the arrogance of a man and the pain of a woman. I am the best person to oversee the trial.” Director Gautham Ramachandran should be lauded for this particular scene. Another beautiful scene is when Sai Pallavi’s Gargi closes the doors of her house. It’s a stunning metaphor implying that all doors are closing on her in life with her dad in prison.
Gargi is also full of irony. It tells you no place is safe for a woman. Gargi sits in court when she gets photographed without consent. The police officer who investigated the case is named Bennix Jayaraj. These are the names of two people who died from custodial torture in 2020. Saravanan, who was thrown out of Bigg Boss Tamil after he confessed to groping a woman, was seen as the child’s father.
Gargi is also clever as a procedural drama. We don’t get to see lawyers yelling at each other in court or them giving unnecessary sermons. Director Gautham Ramachandran’s detailed research shows in every scene.
But, the climax is what makes Gargi different from other films of this genre. It can either shock you or put you off. It’s unsettling, but also makes you think about the times we live in and how vulnerable women are. When Gargi gets to learn the truth, she lets out a cry, which shakes you from within. Sai Pallavi’s performance is the highlight of the film. Kaali Venkat and RS Shivaji have given tough competition to her with their acts.
Gargi is also technically strong. With Govind Vasantha’s music, the film lets you feel the emotions along with the characters in the film. Gargi is a must-watch film when it comes to the subject, which is so relevant in today’s times.
3.5 out of 5 stars for Gargi.
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