House Owner, directed by Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, is an emotionally moving tale of love and hope that throws different feelings at you. Having set the premise in the historical Chennai floods (2015), we see Radha and Vasudevan as the protagonists. The film takes off from its very first shot which introduces us to the marriage of the leads. Fast forward to the present (after a few years), we meet Retd. Cl. Vasudevan (played with utmost brilliance by Aadukalam Kishore), an Alzheimer affected old man. He is taken care of by his wife Radha (an equally brilliant show by Sriranjani). What happens to this old couple when they're stuck inside the house during the heavy floods and water logging? Based on real life incidents and people, the director has presented an emotionally gripping drama that answers the above question.
The film's beauty lies in its realistic performances and the neatly canned emotions. The mature love between a couple is presented well. An Alzheimer affected man loves his wife, but fails to recognize her face and just remembers her name. His innocent love for her is heartwarming but at the same time, you ought to feel sympathetic towards Radha for what she has to undergo with him. Through the relationship of this old couple, we see that pure love will exist despite all the hurdles; a true companion will accept you for who you are.
The Chennai floods setting for this story definitely gives an upper hand for the screenplay as there is higher drama and tension due to that. The final twenty minutes of the film move at a rapid pace filled with tension, fear and strong emotions. The last few minutes give you a high, taking you back to the historical incident. This definitely upholds the film and elevates the impact on higher levels. Every department has shone in their respective work and they literally transport you to the film's locations.
The work is so good that you feel the reality with Radha and Vasu. Almost 95% of the film has the sounds of heavy rain and subconsciously it gets registered in you. The sound design by Tapas Nayak and team is top class that weaves a lot of actuality. The miniscule references of a rose flower, carrom board, cauliflower and snake add so much of strength to the plot and helps in the establishment of the emotions.
The film has been made on a low budget but the makers never allow you to sense that feel. There are no major complaints about the production value of the film and in fact, the flood scenes are recreated with perfection. No artificiality exists in this portion and that works in the favour. The dialogues are simple and strong. House Owner is a small film that is made with a big heart, conviction and promise. The film will definitely be a treat for ardent cinema followers.
Coming to the performances, Aadukalam Kishore breathes life to Retd. Cl. Vasudevan. His innocence and the characteristic features of Alzheimer add to his brilliant portrayal. He is totally fantastic and we get a solid performance from him. After watching House Owner, one would definitely feel that Sriranjani has been under-utilized in Tamil Cinema, being typecast to play mother roles. Sriranjani aces her role with her natural staging. House Owner will be one of the most important films in her career.
The younger version of the couple is played by ‘Pasanga’ Kishore and Lovelyn Chandrasekhar (making her debut), respectively. Both the youngsters have put up a pretty decent performance bringing out the innocence in their love. Both of them fit their roles perfectly. We see only these four people on screen but you feel the existence of other characters such as Ramya, Mini and John, who appear only through their voices. Their presence is felt just with the audio.
On the downside, the slow pace of the film might be a concern for a section of the people, especially in the first half. The Brahmin dialect doesn’t completely gel along with the film. The youth audience might not connect to the old school romance, as there is a tinge of artificiality in one or two scenes.
Ghibran’s background score is a backbone which upgrades the film to a higher stage. His music silently holds the film together. Krishnasekhar’s visuals need an applause for creating a tone and impact that makes you forget the low budget. The flood scenes are realistically shot with angles that are set in water levels. Due to these shots, the audience get empathetic and pray for the protagonists. CS Premkumar’s cuts look apt and do not provide any hindrance.