“Pisasu” – Brilliant Visual Tropes within a Typical Ghost Flick
In one of the numerous interviews, Director Mysskin has given after the release of his new terrific movie “Pisasu”, an interviewer asks that why he has chosen chimney, inside the house, as a place of residence for his benevolent ghost. Mysskin replies that he thought about various hiding places for a ghost, and when he pondered over the word ‘chimney’, the word descended upon his mind was ‘cinder’, which further intimated the name of princess ‘Cinderella’ (she earned that nickname because she was often covered in cinders). And so, Mysskin decided that his movie’s princess, guardian and ghost (please note that the ‘pisasu’ is cloaked in a light blue dress like ‘Cinderella’) could best hover around the chimney.
The aforementioned intricate thought process within such mundane or overlooked thing is where I think resides the brilliance of Mysskin. And, with “Pisassu” (2014) he takes one step forward to earning a unique vocabulary for his way of movie-making – say ‘Mysskinisque’ (like Hitchcokian, Lynchian etc). Of course many might feel that it’s still too early to compare him with full-blown auteurs of world cinema, but at least he deserves great credit for being a rare Indian director to amply treat cinema as a visual language. In a film industry, where every simple emotion is explained through non-stop outpouring, Mr. Mysskin handles, exudes and embraces emotions only through his beautiful compositions.
The storyline of “Pisasu” isn’t unique, but that’s the problem with every unambiguous ghost stories. Nevertheless, this film doesn’t suffer from limited imaginations. The protagonist of the story is haunted by a ghost, for whom the eradicating danger to its loved ones seems to be the first priority than lamentably occupy its own realm. Unlike a typical ghost it chooses benevolence rather than malevolence. Under the hands of a lesser director, the film could have ended upon touching the plot’s mushy elements, but here we sort of get the philosophical angle.
But, still you could feel that there is something missing; something that keeps us from saying that it’s the director’s best film. May be I couldn’t emotionally get connected with the central unrequited love, the director is hinting at. The filial love is conveyed elegantly (in the scene where dad crawls like baby), but the other kind of love isn’t expressed in the same heart-wrenching manner.
However, “Pisasu” is worth watching for the Mysskin treatment. Characters like the protagonist’s mother, raving philosopher, abusive husband, and fake paranormal investigators are all integrated with a single purpose. But, thanks to good writing & acting, those elementary characters doesn’t become caricatures. They firmly occupy their own space before going on to fulfill the duties. Mysskin doesn’t force his pet themes into the story, like the inclusion of impoverished, visually-impaired people, and timid thugs fighting in the sub-way .
The twist presented in the end isn’t an intellectual, pull-the-rug-from-under kind of twist. You would have formed a gut-feeling on what the twist might be, and so the ending sort of just confirms your inner feeling. Without Mysskin’s treatment the sequences pushing us towards the end would not have only looked simple, but also could have invited ridicule. How beautifully does the director plays with the color (green & red) in those sequences! Accomplishing such great aesthetic qualities by using mere objects isn’t definitely a quotidian thing in Tamil or Indian cinema. The same aesthetic sense is what makes us movie-lovers to laugh at those cry-baby claims: ‘Pisasu is copied from “The Machinist”, “The Ghost” etc.
“Pisassu” is a minimalistic, balanced act for Mysskin. He simultaneously probes into the depth of human (& ghost) nature and attains the commercial acknowledgment he very much deserves.