Contradiction is the basis of life and drives it forward. Contradiction initiates conversations that will transform us to the next stage in our life. Transforming from white to black will not happen with a few steps, there are numerous colours in the transition. Can a fundamentalist transform into a progressive thinker immediately?
The subject I like to convey here is a story with contradictions, the impact it reflects in the characters, the obstacle, the fight of the lead character against the obstacle, and progression to the next stage.
Although the main contradiction measures the quality of the movie, the supporting conflicts also help to progress the story. Even great movies can have only four or five contradictions over main, mostly it is possible only in novels. Particularly, only legends like Tolstoy can bring many contradictions in the story.
The person who observes, analyses, understands and feels mankind can bring so many contradictions in their work. We can search the formulae, books, and facts about contradiction on the web for a screenplay. Softwares like “Syd Field” will help us to craft the screenwriting and can pinpoint the importance of contradiction in a story.
However, the real screenplay is above all the formula or software available. Understanding human emotions are the main key in placing contradictions in screenwriting. It helps us to understand what kind of contradictions can be part of the story. For that, the observation of mankind, history, and a person’s characters are mandated.
Sarpatta Paramparai is a wonderful experience. Pa. Ranjith has a blast with many characters, their personalities, the colours they reflect, the moment they change colours, and the transition of colours at the same time.
With the Emergency as background, the change from outside that is political and economical had affected the common man. His characters also changed with history.
We say the best director will capture the transition of a character with precision. With a social change in the undercurrent, portraying the changes in many characters with wonderful accuracy has made this movie the best in Tamil cinema.
Ranjith had painted Madras on a small canvas whereas Sarpatta is painted as large wall art with life. We can feel the life of all the characters in every frame. We can identify each character’s transition along with the lead character’s transition in the course. At Least 40 contradictions can be felt in moving the story.
The contradictions placed gives us all the colours of human emotions, it’s like it gives us 100 years of experience lived in that era. Hence, the movie spread as a great form of art before us.
The main contradiction in the movie is between the “Sarpatta clan” and the “Idyappa clan”. Sarpatta clan’s Kabilan is the lead character. His main barrier for boxing is his mother because of Kabilan’s father’s demise.
The contradictions spread across many characters as said earlier, between Raman and Vetri both belong to the Sarpatta clan, between Vetri and his father Ranga who is also a boxing master, between Vetri and Kabilan, between Kabilan and Raman by which the caste politics has placed and between Kabilan and Dancing Rose.
No boxers are similar to one another as the same as characters in people. Meeran, Kabilan have great respect for Ranga master but Raman is almost like a traitor. Vetri resembled supporting his father as well as against him because of not offering the opportunity.
Sarpatta film’s Vetri is a common man, expressing his emotions directly. Although he stabs on the back of everyone, he feels sorry for that. Although he mends himself, the pain of neglect pushes him to drink. He also makes Kabilan drink. But the actions are not intended as a villain and that is the important point here.
This character exposes the good and undisciplined alternatively. The character has built on the people who will show so many characteristics at the same time as we see in our real life. In general, a character is portrayed at the same level in the course of common movies. Ranjith. however, differs here.
Vetri character suits as per proverb “you may know by the handful the whole”. There is no state like good or bad. Vetri builds upon people who are natural and like to speak out loud about what he thinks, cries on other’s worries, let out negligence while drinking.
Without intention, he pulls Kabilan to drink not because of jealousy. It’s happening naturally. Vetri backs Kabilan on the most important part of his life. Portraying many colours instead of fixed black and white is the peak of art.
I can point out as many as 25 characters in the movie just like Vetri. Idiyappa clan is not shown as an enemy even though it is on the opposite side of Sarpatta. Competition is only inside the rings. Vempuli, who belongs to Idyappa dissolves the competition when he realises he will lose.
But Dancing Rose of the same clan wants Vempuli to win but not in this pattern, he hates. He expressed the same to Vempuli. The same person praises Vempuli in the climax for playing the fair game. Creating characters placed opposite with human emotions and as natural people have painted the story with life by the director.
Even though Raman belongs to the same Sarpatta clan he is poisonous, there is no necessity that an enemy will be part of the opposite side, he can be within the group, sometimes he can change to a traitor.
Kabilan’s mother worries about the fact that her son should not become rowdy/alcoholic like her spouse because of boxing. She opposes Kabilan for boxing. Neighbour Kevin Daddy supports Kabilan against his mother. Only the contradiction has placed Kabilan’s mother in the opposite stance. Once Kabilan realises the mistake, his mother supports him to continue boxing.
Discipline is mandatory for sportspeople. Discipline helps in maintaining the strength and concentration of the player. Kabilan lost his confidence by non-discipline. This contradiction leads to starting drinking, thinking against clan, master, family, and more.
The contradictions are removed and changed when Kabilan stops drinking. The Emergency is the undercurrent for Kabilan’s drinking habit where available illicit liquor and respective ruin are shown. We can realise how a social contradiction has changed to an individual contradiction.
Ranga master is DMK supporter. Kabilan is disciplined till his arrest during the Emergency. We can see how the social change and the image trap have ruined are presented with historical background. Kabilan’s spouse Maariyamma and mother Bakkiyam are important characters. Both have unity and differences. It’s like a beautiful novel in the movie. Maariyamma is not like so-called cinema actresses. Ranjith has broken this frame of the heroine’s portrait. Vetri’s spouse doesn’t like Kabilan’s importance in the clan, but she is organising in advance for his wedding.
We can see so many contradictions like this, solutions, various levels of characterizations, many layers in the movie. I didn’t see a movie with this many levels of movement in the story, at least in Tamil.
Angamaley Diaries, a Malayalam movie is celebrated with more characters but if you ask about the progress of the characters with this much sharpness and levels, I would say definitely say “no”. Maybe we can find some movies in the World level with this many contradictions and movement in the story. I realised the same feeling last time when reading one of the greatest novels of all time Anna Karenina, I got a strong emotion while passing so many people.
Pa Ranjith had fielded sixes on all fronts, be it depth of story or visuals of the time period or how the characters transitioned as the political upheaval unfolds.
Art’s main job is to feel the change in the mind above campaigning, Ranjith has succeeded in providing such an experience. Political basics in cinema or art are to portray the community in front over individualism and can also place the individual problems covering community view. There is no place for any negative comments in the movie.
Though the dialogue “Naan yaarnu nirubikira neram ithu” (The time has come to prove myself) by Kabilan in the movie, the voice represents the director Ranjith. The movie is not only the best of Ranjith, but it is also one of the best of Indian cinema. He is an important director of techniques along with politics.
But his films are not celebrated in technical aspects, have we circled him only with a political view? We always point out some directors in A list derived from the common man’s view. This movie must also be celebrated for the techniques used.
“Ithu namma kaalam, yeri aadu Kabila”.
Author is a Software Engineer. The article is translated by Raj Anand.
Also read: Sarpatta Parambarai: What packs the Punch?