Chithha review: Emotional roller-coaster that lands a strong punch
It is more than a typical revenge drama, instead the director Arunkumar takes a fresh approach while tackling the sensitive issue of child abuse
'Chithha' directed by SU Arunkumar (Pannaiyarum Padminiyum, Sethupathi) is an emotionally arresting thriller. It is more than a typical revenge drama, instead the director takes a fresh approach and talks about the importance of bringing back normalcy into the lives of child abuse victims. A young girl is molested in an unsafe environment and the usual trope will involve the agitated family members embarking on violence wanting to punish the offenders. But, this film stands out by walking a different path.
The film thus tackles a crucial topic and keeps us engaged from the start with a water-tight screenplay, intelligent writing, and towering performances from the actors.
'Chithha', the short form of Chithhappa (uncle) is played by actor Siddharth, in a completely new avatar. He is the doting Chithhappa of the timid school-going child Sundari (played by Sahasra).
The screenplay written by Arunkumar takes off with Siddharth being wrongly accused in a child abuse case. The audience is strongly rooting for his character since he is likeable for treating Sundari and her friends as his children and for respecting his sister-in-law, who he treats like his own mother.
The director tugs at your heart making you feel for this innocent man, who gets framed in a child abuse case.
It is after this incident that Sundari goes missing and her uncle’s mission is to rescue her. The screenplay is so cleverly written that there is also a slight deviation from the core plot but that does not in any way detract from the film.
The way Arunkumar introduces each character and develops them in different moments in the screenplay also deserves special mention. He has chosen newcomers (special mention to the actress who plays the inspector and the actor who played Siddharth's friend) and their performances are natural and convincing.
The two kids in the film have delivered award-worthy performances. Also, Siddharth, who has been in the industry for almost twenty-one years is seen in 'Chittha' in a never-before-seen role. The actor is a natural in the film and can easily pass off as one of the Palani locals. The climax performance between Siddharth and the child actor will be one of the most talked about scenes in the coming years.
Nimisha Sajayan plays Siddharth’s childhood friend, and her backstory and characterisation also helps to elevate the core theme of the film in the pre-climax episode.
'Chithha' scores on the technical front as well with cinematographer Balaji's realistic visuals, soul-touching songs by Dhibu Ninan Thomas, and arresting music score by Vishal Chandrasekhar. Editor Suresh A Prasad also stays true to the thriller genre with his meticulous work.
On a surface level, 'Chithha' may appear as yet another vengeance saga on the lines of 'Ratchasan' and 'Por Thozhil' but the film clearly differs from the other two in that it can initiate a debate on the care for the well-being of child abuse victims. It clearly sends out a message on focussing on healing the scars of the trauma of child abuse.
'Chithha' is also probably the first Tamil film to talk about the pain and suffering of child abuse.
In the end, 'Chithha' will go down as one of the best Tamil films of this year. It is a must watch for its message, exemplary writing and performances.