I usually don’t have the patience to binge-watch a series, but Suzhal: The Vortex, the new series from Amazon Prime, made me sit from 7.30 pm to 2.00 am the next day. This is one Regional series that we can be proud of, and it sets a new benchmark from a content and scale perspective. The series had all the correct elements – a great plot, brilliant casting, genuine and rooted portrayal with all its rawness. Usually, one connects a murder mystery with a big mansion or a palatial house and a group of weird characters, but this one is authentic in its real sense and stays true to its plot till the end. This series is a true son of the soil product. I have often wondered why we in the regional space are not getting our act right in the web series space, but this series has proved to the Global audiences that South India can get its act right not only in Films but in the Web series space as well.
The Case of a Missing Girl Who Was Later Found Murdered And The Big Whodunit Mystery. Two characters who can’t see eye to eye but their children falling in love is done before, but this time it is a woman police cop and a union leader who are opposite poles, but their children are attracted to each other and fall in love only to be killed by someone. The needle of suspicion keeps moving, but in the end, the Unexpected happens and relating it to a social taboo still prevalent in most parts of India is the highlight of this series.
The plot of this Story is very rooted, and it establishes a great connection from the beginning, father-daughter relationship,mother-son relationship, and a conflict developing from the outside world in the form of protests by factory workers makes the format of Storytelling honest, raw and authentic. This is a natural storytelling narrative and experience. The highlight of this series is also its backdrop, set in the hinterland of Tamil Nadu. The vibrant small town, the engagement function of the hero, the village Sandhai (meaning Market), and the street plays transport the visual storytelling experience (firangs will Luv all these) to its rich local flavour. The nine-day festival of that small town, Mayana Kollai, is showcased with its grandeur and pomp. The theme song of the series and background score of the series had to match the varied moods of the series ranging from drama, protests, sober, romance, suspense, and village music ambience making it more intense, gripping and enhancing the narrative flow.
The Cast of this series must be appreciated for their honest and authentic portrayal. The characters are finely sketched and crafted. Actor Parthiban as Shanmugam, the Union leader, is very natural and subtle. The scenes of him seeing his daughter’s dead body are very emotional, and his apology to his wife for his past mistakes was quickly the best. Sriya Reddy (remembered SS Music days) as Inspector Regina Thomas is indeed the highlight with her bold looks and a cop with an attitude. She does most of her actions through her expressive eyes. The scene in which she celebrates with a glass of raw foreign alcohol and walks to her house post is memorable. Aishwarya Rajesh, as Nandini, has displayed her consistency, her reaction when she learns that her sister is carrying not her lover’s child, but somebody’s child is truly commendable. She is at her best when she gets an anxiety attack and a nervous breakdown. She peaks in her performance, especially in the last two episodes. Kathir, as Sub-inspector Chakravarthy, is super cool in his performance. Santhana Bharathi playing the role of Kothandaram, the insurance officer, is the dark horse of the series in terms of acting. His mannerism of regularly applying balm to his lips is a new style quotient. The final rituals of the deceased pair are done jointly with the permission of the child’s parents, and their presence is unquestionably the best scene of the series. The parents of the estranged lovers decided to join them on their final trip with the dead couple holding each other’s hands. All the characters have played their part truthfully and very realistic again is the word to summarize.
While the Story celebrates our traditions and heritage in all the ritualistic renditions showcased, it also subtly makes it a point to convey not to get carried away by certain myths. Like a human sacrifice for the Goddess, The debate continues whether the myths expressed or shown have an element of metaphysical truths or is it for benefitting a specific section of the society. The series ends with a message, creating awareness about the growing child abuse issue still prevalent in India, which is untold and unexpressed by many children. We have to credit the Show Runners duo of Pushkar Gayathri for integrating and creating an awareness of this social taboo in this murder mystery universe.
While reading this article, one must be wondering is it a picture-perfect product. Well, it has a few lapses like rationale in the delay tracking the mobile call list, the makeup of sub-inspectors lover compromised in the later stages. Finally, The series’ ultimate antagonist could have had much more screen time. I felt that he was planted in the end suddenly and from nowhere. The glitches are too minor, and it gets quickly overshadowed by the making and effort behind this series.
Tamil television in the past has witnessed iconic products like Marmadesam- Vidatha Karrapu, Kai Alavu Manasu, Annamalai, and Anni. Suzhal becomes the first iconic product from a streaming platform in the web series category. Indeed a great beginning, and it’s yet another display of the true potential from Dakshin – It is just the beginning.
Article is authored by Anup Chandrasekharan.