Por keeps you rooted to the spot throughout its runtime, it keeps you enthralled — just like a drug and the lows only seem to hit much later

Director: Bejoy Nambiar

Cast: Arjun Das, Kalidas Jayaram, TJ Bhanu, Sanchana Natarajan

Generation Z — just this term conjures up an image of young adults and adults who are a world apart from their previous generations. Therapy for mental health, technology, treating generational trauma — all of this is something that the current generation has come to be surrounded with. They are set in their ways, and their behaviours and patterns have become fodder for memes to be consumed by previous generations with delight. Entitlement, recklessness, irresponsible — these are all words that the world has some associated with this generation. All of this because they do not cater to the expectations that have been met by their predecessors without question. So, when one depicts a film about this generation, which aspect of it would be highlighted?

What is the angle that director
would take to set up a world populated with young college-going adults in his movie Por? When I watched the trailer of Por featuring Arjun Das, Kalidas Jayaram and TJ Bhanu, I saw electric energy, trance music, and a sense of chaotic storm building emotionally within his main characters. I wanted to see this storm truly erupt on the big screen, in all its glory, but unfortunately, the film did not go to that extent emotionally. While there was a build-up, and the intensity did gain momentum, it did not go to the extent of getting dark emotionally. Instead, the film chose to center on violence and use that as a medium to portray the heightened emotions.

Considering the title of the film is Por — meaning war, it is clear that the crux of the film was the fight between Prabhu (Arjun Das) and his rival (Kalidas Jayaram) in college. It is a fight that the film begins by teasing the audience with. It culminates in a beautiful visual sequence in the latter half of the film. The violence lives and breathes in the film as a secondary character, and it is just a matter of when. And when it does pour out of the characters at different instances, it breathes life onto the screen. College is when teenagers become adults and there is a lot of chaos within and around at this time.

The film tries to encapsulate that sense of chaos, while also giving structure to the plot. In a large part, it does succeed but where it flounders is when certain themes are introduced. There is a college election and politics that are underway in the film, as if to play foil to the main rivalry, and there is also love. After all, what is college life without romance? There are also drugs and reckless in-fighting. Does this add substance to the plot? Yes, it definitely does, because it is these aspects that paint the characters of the film in different lights. It could be the dalit politics vs savarnas, the addiction to drugs, or a testosterone-pumped young man wanting nothing but a fight. To a large extent they become character identifiers in the film, and it even felt as if they were largely used to fit eat character under a label to help audiences outside of this age group identify with these characters. It was as if these underlying themes were roadmaps to the main characters’ moral compass.

Do all of these come together though? In parts, it does, yes, but the screenplay definitely needed to be more seamless in stitching it all together. This flaw, however, is covered up by three things. Brilliant music — both the OST and the BGM, visuals, and the performances. Both Arjun Das and Kalidas Jayaram live this enmity and rivalry. The music and lyrics really add to the overall mood of the film, and its individual significant chapters. At the first go, all of this is overwhelming that it does take a quiet moment to notice the flaws. Be it the young female characters who revolve around the male protagonists, or the secondary characters whose life choices become a foil for a larger set up to fit within the rivalry. Por keeps you rooted to the spot throughout its runtime, it keeps you enthralled — just like a drug and the lows only seem to hit much later. Yet, we must give credit where it is due. Por is probably one of the few films that hasn’t made this generation a caricature of sorts. Instead, it attempts to shed light on who they are and why they are the way they are.

Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)

Por is playing in cinemas

Priyanka Sundar is a film journalist who covers films and series of different languages with a special focus on identity and gender politics.


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