Direction: Lakshmy Ramakrishnan
Cast: Aadukalam Kishore, Sriranjani, Pasanga Kishore and Lovelyn
'Good Things Come In Small Packages' and Lakshmy Ramakrishnan’s House Owner is proof of that. Set at the backdrop of Chennai Floods (2015), it narrates the poignant romantic story of an elderly couple during the natural disaster.
Even as the title card rolls, we see glimpses of traditional rituals of a Palakkad Iyer marriage where young Vasudevan aka Vasu (Pasanga Kishore) and school going Radha (Lovelyn Chandrashekar) tie the knot at an ancestral house.
Cut to present, the story begins with Vasu waking up from the bed and seeing himself on the mirror, only to realize that he has aged a lot (Aadukalam Kishore). He yells at the man and asks him ‘who are you? Get Out! This is my house’. He has retired from the army and suffers from Alzheimer’s and lives with wife Radha (Sriranjani) in the dream house built by him in the Defense Colony. He does not live in the present but is stuck in the past. It is Radha who takes care of him throughout the day despite Vasu with his forgetful condition fretting all the time asking questions like ‘who is she'. He is also aggressive at times, but she is empathetic and there are no complaints. There’s an impulsive scene where he kicks Radha from the bed thinking someone else is sleeping next to him. Cut to the past, we see the same Vasu who clings to Radha and tells her to stay with him in bed for some more time. There’s yet another scene where Vasu’s forward-thinking nature is brought out! He gives a rose to Radha’s widowed grandmother and insists that she keeps it on her tresses saying ‘these are customs devised by men to control women’. And the irony is that the same Vasu now controls his wife continually.
Vasu’s memory might have faded, but his love for Radha is intact. The story goes back and forth narrating the present and younger romantic days of the couple, with rain and water playing a dominant role in the proceedings.
With torrential rains and the house slowly sinking, and with a dissenting Vasu, Radha’s efforts to move out prove futile. In a way, Vasu’s (House Owner) strong attachment to his house is established here.
The finale is heartrending where Vasu is more worried about his floating slippers and fridge without realizing that his beloved wife is on the verge of drowning in the other room.
The ever-dependent Kishore delivers a knockout performance and ace Sriranjani is a revelation. She is simply terrific as a wife who pours unconditional love to her ailing husband. The young pair Pasanga Kishore and Lovelyn looks fresh and does an admirable job. The end might look tear-jerking but Lakshmi’s meticulous writing delivers a message through these two characters that compassion and humanity still thrives. Ghibran’s music and Tapas Nayak’s sound design elevate the film topnotch. Krishna Shekar’s camera captures the right mood of the film. A must watch movie....