In the quest of finding the extraordinary in the mundane, how mundane can you go? How far can you stretch your observation skill to grasp and depict the most intricate of human behavioural patterns? How varied and indulging, after all, can realism be?
‘Sometimes’ by Priyadarshan is perhaps as far as things go in terms of the above mentioned questions. The obvious consequence of pushing a creative form of art to the edge of realism is that it narrows down its audience to a thin number of appreciators. Clearly, Sometimes is not amongst the chartbusters but the message is vital and received loud and clear. More importantly, it’s one of the best ever plays I’ve seen with human emotion, behavioural patterns and finding the extraordinary in the mundane.
Priyadarshan has pushed it as far as enclosing seven distinct characters in a waiting room at a medical lab awaiting blood test results. A serious plot revealed with subtle fun is that they’re all discreetly awaiting results of HIV tests and through one of the characters, a rather invasive one named Balamurugan, end up discussing their stories during the wait. None of them was at fault. And yet, they were thrown to this room through circumstances that risked them to be HIV positive. The sheer anxiety and restlessness of standing a chance of receiving a report that might say positive brings them together and moves the story along. Within half the span of the movie, they get along, inter change energies, exchange stories, let their anxiety get the better of their common sense, and split again over a realization. The emotional, innately social and behavioural dynamics Priyadarshan has captured within one lengthy conversation in a dull room with supremely common people is insane; and holds a very stone carved placard to the writer and director’s skills.
Adding to the process is the financially desperate receptionist at the lab who ends up accepting a bribe and leaking out her own version of the test results, leading to a rather dreadful end to the story. The passive brutality of this character who, in her own desperation, turns out to be completely inconsiderate of all others’ conditions and ends up reflecting a morbid reality of middle class lifestyle is yet another instance of clever writing.
Balamurugan keeps nudging the story ahead as and when required because the rest of the characters aren’t interested in making announcements about the test results they’re waiting for. He comes off as a rather intrusive and over the line character at first when he goes around poking his nose but how he manages to bring the seven of them together is impressive. He, however, has a big role to play in bringing about the dreadful end, but takes no blame for the same. That’s pretty much how all the characters are – they have their own story and they share sympathy for the rest but end up leaving the place with their own goodwill in mind and not anyone else’s. There’s no part of the story where any of the characters attempts a fake show of sympathy or even a slight diversion from what would be the natural course of an individual at such a moment. Again, an impressive script.
‘Sometimes’ definitely has one of the best performances in terms of natural acting. Prakash Rai is a palpable highlight considering his reputation in similar roles previously.
It’s an experience most of us have had in life of waiting for a test result at a lab, and this story might as well be unfolding right before our eyes. But quite obviously, like its parallels, ‘Sometimes’ takes its time to unfold and does demand quite the patient watching from its audience. Priyadarshan has worried to the last bit about telling his story perfectly, and not much about ensuring the same number of people who started the movie stay until the end. His audience is definitely refined, but the ones that do stay leave with a lasting impression and admiration for this impeccably executed message based story.