Noted cinematographer Chezhiyan’s first film as a director, To Let, is gearing up for its theatrical release tomorrow after an extremely fruitful round in the festival and awards circuit. The team proudly proclaims the fact that their film has won 32 awards (including the National Award for the Best Tamil Film last year) and appeared at 100 film festivals. To Let is centered on the struggles of a poor family, comprising husband, wife and their kid, to find a new house. They live in a humble little rented house and are forced to move out by the grumpy owner, thereby leading to a never-ending house hunt.
The husband strives hard to make his first film as a writer - director. The wife struggles to run the family with not much of an income from her man. The innocent little child lives innocently, oblivious to the struggles of his parents. The film lures us into its milieu and the lead characters despite not having any cinematic elements like songs, background score, exaggerated camera angles, action sequences etc. It’s as real and candid as it gets!
The performances of the lead actors add all the weight to the film and make our viewing experience highly engaging. Santhosh Sreeram (husband), Sheela Rajkumar (wife) and Dharun (kid) make us feel their plight. That said, Chezhiyan never makes it too forced or melodramatic. He isn’t in any mood to emotionally manipulate the viewers but conveys the story in an impactful manner. Editor Sreekar Prasad is a proven master at maintaining a film’s meter, mood and tempo.
If you don’t have any issues with housing in your life, you are actually bound to feel blessed and lucky while watching the film. Chezhiyan also impresses as a dialogue writer; the ironical line about powerful cinema people ruling the state for the past 50 years and the protagonist (a low wage earner in the cinema industry) struggling to find a stable house to live, will hit you hard.
To Let will surely impress aficionados of cinema who won’t mind the art-house treatment of the film. It runs for just 99 minutes. And longtime Tamil cinema fans will get reminded of the good old K Balachander days while seeing To Let.