‘Baaram’ (Burden) opens with a village fair. There is colour all around and the air is filled with vendors’ shouts. An old man — Karuppusamy (R Raju) — is sauntering around checking the price of a balloon and of a flute but does not buy either.
Karuppursamy arrives at his sister Menmozhi’s house to a warm welcome and a hearty dinner. The siblings share an easy camaraderie and warmth as they reminisce on their childhood days when they visited the fair. Menmozhi’s three sons, Murugan, Mani and Veera, are fond of their uncle, but clearly Veera is Karuppusamy’s favourite.
Karuppusamy works as a security guard in the neighbourhood. The following day, while returning from work, he meets with an accident. Karuppusamy needs surgery for his fractured hip so his son Senthil (SuPa Muthukumar) is called for. Senthil is not keen on spending for his father’s operation and against the wishes of his cousins he takes his father to the village stating that he will seek a traditional treatment there.
Director Priya Krishnaswamy explores the practice of thalaikoothal through Veera who probes into his uncle’s demise. ‘Baaram’ is hard hitting as it reveals the existence of parricide in parts of Tamil Nadu. New methods of killing have replaced the ancient ones.
Last year, there was another Tamil film ‘KD Engira Karuppu Durai’ (now on Netflix) that explored this tradition. Directed by Madhumita Vijay, ‘KD’, after opening on a sombre note, turned into a fun tale of bonding between an old man and a little boy with them finding joys in living life. ‘Baaram’, meanwhile, dares to look into the eyes of this gruesome practice that is meant to relieve one from the burden of looking after elderly parents.
There is a realism in the staging of several scenes, such as Karuppusamy’s accident. Krishnaswamy’s clear writing and characterisation is matched by excellent performances. Jayalakshmi lives the role of Menmozhi; R Raju as Karuppuswamy endears himself to the audience. Sugumar Shanmugam (Veera) and P. Samanaraja (Murugan) impress. With his eyes and body language SuPa Muthukumar does a fine job being Senthil, who is a classic example of how selfish and inhuman one can become.
Without taking any stance, Krishnaswamy narrates this story that asks silently: Can our parents become a burden when old and helpless?
Don’t miss it!
Baaram is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.