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An analysis of the characters of Karthik Subbaraj's Iraivi

*** Spoliers Ahead ***

The recently released Karthik Subbaraj’s Iraivi has been drawing a lot of attention for many reasons. One (or rather two) of the main reasons is the director’s earlier films Pizza and Jigarthanda. These films had created an image of sorts about Karthik’s work which has upped the anticipation levels about Iraivi.


Iraivi has been promoted as ‘Sila WoMENgalin Kadhai’ and has managed to create an impression that it is female-centric. Of course, the film does delve on this segment and throw light. However, I feel the three important male characters (SJ Suryah, Bobby Simhaa and Vijay Sethupathi) are in fact not the stereotypical males (at least Suryah and Bobby) and are actually sensible and normal.  


When we take Arul, played by SJ Suryah, he has been shown to revel in alcohol primarily because of his professional setbacks. Despite the fact that he comes home completely sloshed, he is keen to deliver his responsibilities as a husband or a father, jumping to drive his wife Yazhini (Kamalini) to her office and his daughter to her school. Even at the height of his desolateness, Arul continues to care for his family and it is at Yazhini’s behest that he apologizes to the producer to release his film, much against his own principle. He is not the one who wants a divorce. But one might feel that he is not the affected party and it is only his wife who bears the brunt. Nevertheless, Suryah’s problems are because of his profession and not with his wife or family. He even enters a punishing rehab and comes out changed for family’s sake.


On the other hand, Michael (Vijay Sethupathi) loves Malarvizhi (Pooja Devariya) and wants to legalize his relationship with her. It is due to Malar’s unwillingness for a commitment, makes Sethupathi get married to Ponni (Anjali). He IS a little insensitive to start with, but slowly, he is drawn to his wife and to his daughter. Realization does come upon him to take his familial responsibilities seriously and he turns over a fresh leaf. In fact, I felt it was a little unwomanly and inhuman for Ponni to have walked away from Michael’s dead body like a total stranger. After all, she has lived with this man and borne him his child.


We also have Jagan (Simhaa) who is completely pro-woman and is shown to hate men who make women cry. Even when expressing his love to a married woman, he is honest in conveying his feelings. He does not stalk or disturb her.


Besides these, the eldest member in the family played by Radha Ravi realizes that he has treated his wife shabbily at some time in his life and is atoning when she needs attention the most.


So, Iraivi favoring women or men? In trying to showcase the flick as a feminist film, Karthik has actually done the balancing act pretty neatly.


To sum it all, he makes a MAN say the powerful pro-woman dialogue of the film பொறுத்து போற‌த்துக்கும் சகிச்சுகிறத்துக்கும் நாம் என்ன பொம்பளைங்களா? (poruthu porathukkum sagichukarathukkum naama enna pombalaingala)


Good one Karthik! Thanks!


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