Vignesh Kumulai’s ‘Karparaa’ is a quiet stunner, an unsentimental look at an aged couple at the mercy of the young

Posted on February 21, 2023


Spoilers ahead…

This is not a film about cruel children. This is a film about busy people who still carve out time to do their duty.

Vignesh Kumulai was one of the cinematographers of Pebbles (Koozhangal), which won the Tiger Award at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam. His first film as director, Karparaa, premiered at the same festival this year, and it’s a quiet stunner set in a quiet village in Tamil Nadu. (Vignesh is also the film’s writer, cinematographer and editor.) The “story” is about a very old couple at the doorstep of death. For practical reasons, the old woman and the old man are being cared for by different children. But Vignesh does not judge these children. Instead of an emotional narrative like Yasujirō Ozu’s Tokyo Story, he uses a distant observational style with a series of vignettes. The style echoes a stretch of dialogue from Ozu’s, which was also about aged parents and too-busy children. “But children do drift away from their parents… They have to look after their own lives.”

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