“To Let”… An earnest portrait of a family’s struggle to find a rented house

Posted on February 21, 2019

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Spoilers ahead…

Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/to-let-movie-review-baradwaj-rangan-chezhian/

R Chezhiyan’s To Let opens with a title card about the IT boom, around 2007, and how it made house rentals difficult for the non-IT middle class. The film’s protagonist, Ilango (Santhosh Sreeram), is as non-IT as you can get. In the first scene, the camera roams around the modest home Ilango inhabits with his wife and kindergarten-going son: Amudha (Sheela Rajkumar) and Siddhu (Dharun). We see crayon scribbles on the walls, plastic water-storing pots, a clogged Indian-style toilet, cobwebs on the grills of windows — and hanging casually on a nail, a bag from one of the editions of the International Film Festival of India at Goa. Ilango isn’t just any filmmaker. He is that kind of filmmaker, someone who makes it a point to watch a Russian film even after a long, tiring day outside.

At least, I think it’s a Russian film. Chezhiyan doesn’t show us images from the film, only the sounds as it plays on a TV set. To Let is about the family’s search for a house when their landlady asks them to move out. But the film is just as much the chronicle of the life of a very ordinary non-IT guy, and the things he has to do to be able to afford the things an IT guy would take for granted: say, sending his son to a relatively decent school, even if his vest is riddled with holes, even if he has to present a concept pitch for an ad film for a brand of pickle, even if he gets around on the ricketiest of mopeds. This moped becomes a superb metaphor in the scene where Ilango (with his wife and son) pulls up beside an air-conditioned car at a traffic light. Siddhu looks at the little girl inside the car, who holds a huge stuffed toy. She looks very much like the daughter of an IT guy. The car zooms off. Ilango pedals furiously, but his moped won’t start. He’s been left behind in every possible sense.

Continued at the link above.

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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil