Nisabdham is a difficult movie to review. Nisabdham is an easy movie to review. Both these statements are, simultaneously, true. An independent film made by a crew of mostly first timers, Nisabdham features Abhinaya, Ajay, Sathanya, Ruthu, Kishore, and others. It’s a film based on real incidents, and deals with child sexual abuse.
It’s difficult to review because I was moved to tears through the film, despite what seemed like amateur filmmaking. It’s easy to review because I was moved to tears through the film, despite what seemed like amateur filmmaking. Nisabdham is a raw film – because it feels rough, unready; and because it cuts one up, opens one up to feel deeply.
YouTube reviews of Nisabdham say that the film is based on a Korean film called Hope, and this Tamil/Kannada version is a poor copy. Perhaps. I have not seen Hope, and so cannot draw a more judicious comparison. But it is true that there is a bit of unnecessary melodrama – those long drawn slow motion shots and slow focus pulling especially make watching this film very, heavy. It makes it apparent that here are emotions, and therefore one must feel sad, feel pain, feel anger.
That apart, Nisabdham still moves us. The film’s strength is that the people in it actually do care for each other, and that when things come to a point where one feels very alone, someone or the other is going to step up and lend a shoulder to cry on. Having been through some trying times myself, where I wasn’t sure what I would do if not for the help and support of my friends, I could completely identify with Adi and Adhira, and felt happy that they had superb friends.
Much of the film’s drama centers on Boomi – the little girl who goes through sexual abuse, severe injuries and has to have life-saving surgery, and subsequently suffers from acute post-traumatic stress disorder. And her pain causes her parents severe stress. Boomi reacts adversely to her father’s presence – he too is a bearded man, much like the rapist. And so Adi will need to find a way to get closer to his daughter, go through hell to find redemption. While Adhira has to deal with her guilt, her friend’s guilt, and her husband’s troubles, and her own second pregnancy.
There is a moment in the film, when after surgery and recovery, Boomi is going to school. As she walks down the street, she holds her stomach – where the colostomy bag she has to live with has been tucked into her school uniform by her mother. That little gesture, moment – made the whole film real. Sathanya, the young actress who plays Boomi, became a great actor in that one short frame.
It was a bit troubling for me that given the nature of the film, the cinema hall was filled with kids. What would their reaction to the rape be? Would it be triggering? Would it be gruesome to the children? The film is not graphic, but it is troubling, and the presence of kids in the audience made me wonder. Perhaps this would be an educational film? A Public Service Announcement in the form of a movie.
Unlike Arun Vaidyanathan’s Achchamundu Achchamundu, which too deals with paedophilia and child sexual abuse but turned it into something of a thriller, Nisabdham concentrates on the effects of abuse on the child, and on the parents. It talks about therapy and counselling, support for both the survivor and their close family. And that is very important. The role of the therapist in such situations cannot be stressed enough. That the therapist too had a similar experience and uses her work to perhaps sort through her own emotions is, well, a bit of a Tamil-cinema moment, but so what?
For a debut director and a fresher-crew, this is a great first film. Nisabdham makes a lot of good, solid points throughout the film, and there are definitely moving moments.
The Nisabdham review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.