Rotterdam 2021: PS Vinothraj makes a stunning debut with Koozhangal (Pebbles), a father-son ‘road movie’

Posted on February 4, 2021

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pebbles

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Despite the many tragedies in the scenario (both natural and man-made), the film doesn’t beg for our sympathies. Only at the very end do we feel a twinge.

Spoilers ahead…

Almost a year ago, director Ram called me to watch a movie by a new filmmaker. I went without expecting much, but what I saw blew my mind. It was the purest “cinema” I’d seen in a long, long time – something that told its story with faces and landscapes and movement rather than through dialogue. I offered to clean up the subtitles (and they were kind enough to give me an end credit) – but this is the kind of filmmaking that doesn’t need those subtitles. It works at a visual, visceral level, and I am glad they were able to get big names on board to increase this film’s profile. “Nayanthara and Vignesh Shivan present” says the producers’ credit, at the beginning. The music is by Yuvan Shankar Raja, who wisely gives us very little by way of a background score. Because the sound design is far more important. Music manipulates. Sound just is.

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