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Por Movie Review: Bejoy Nambiar’s campus brawl is boyish, has a hypermasculine narrative and is about unresolved issues

In Por, Bejoy Nambiar builds a campus story that is filled with raw energy and unresolved issues 

Por Movie Review: Bejoy Nambiar’s campus brawl is boyish, has a hypermasculine narrative and is about unresolved issues
Poster of Por

Last Updated: 05.43 PM, Mar 01, 2024


Por story

Bejoy Nambiar’s Por is set on the sun-kissed and posh campus of Saint Martin’s University, which is not only politically-charged with student activism, but also a melting point of characters who seem to be dwindled in their own conundrum of complicated situations. 

There is a level-headed, quad-rider and shack-resident medico Prabhu (Arjun Das) whose final-year thesis revolves arounddepression; substance supplier and social butterfly Rishika (Sanchana Natrajan) trying to overcome the suicide of her brother; hot-tempered and revengeful Yuva (Kalidas Jayaram); politically aware Gayathri (TJ Bhanu) who runs an activism initiative Kural to support Dalit student leader Vennila; a rival political heiress Surya (Amrutha Srinivasan), among the many other students, who make up for Por being highly testosterone and hyper-masculine story on campus brawls and several pertinent topics. 


Por review

Por is a flashy story about many important issues that riddle the lives of youngsters. I am very tempted to take the film’s side for showing all that everyone would have dreamt of what college life would be. Bejoy makes Saint Martin, even if it has religious nuns coming to rescue for every fracas, flamboyant with his fancy intercuts, psychedelic aesthetics, and one where administration and teacher hardly get involved in any matters that should ideally be taken on priority. But Por becomes a flimsily layered campus drama that merely uses threads to create its set pieces.

There is a childhood trauma that changes the way certain characters grow up, a queer relationship that barely scratches the surface, an addressal of mental health and still an unmissable mention of committing suicide, and one of power dynamics fuelled by caste hierarchy. Even as each of these characters is going through something serious, it never gets resonated or translated to undertake a journey with them. The film is divided into chapters, ranging from being called kalam (field), pagai (enmity) and ultimately por (war). It seems to have the raw energy to talk about all these issues in their true and honest sense, but gets meddled in its alpha male narrative that none of them are explored much.

This also makes me think that if Por, just like Bejoy’s recent works, had been made into a series, it would have given the content more space for a fleshed-out narrative. For example, there is just one scene to establish a queer relationship between two characters who must stand opposite one another. One of them also comes from an intersectional minority. Even though the presence of the character is not milked for sympathy, or at least directly, I am invested in knowing about these characters and who and where they come from. 

So, to give the benefit of doubt, Por has interesting people in its world. A man who has been bullied grows up to be an aggressive young man or a woman who wants it to make it big in the political arena, choosing to play with her moral ground, but these characters offer an interesting one-note and vanish. Por, despite having about 150 minutes of run time, fails to give the much-needed adrenaline rush through its narrative. But on the flip side, it also does not want to hate its characters. There are redeeming factors, and unlike what its poster says, it does not make you pick a side. Instead, it lets you traverse the lives of these youngsters, who live by the edge and recklessly.

Por verdict

Bejoy Nambiar, who is known for his unique taste in subjects and presentation style, does it once again with Por. The aesthetics, characters and world-building look fine, but the momentum of the film gets lost when they never get translated. The psyche of the male ego and the fleshed-out adderssal of pressing issues are not explored enough. But on the flip side, the actors who bring these characters to screen try to give them an edge. Por may not be your cup of tea if you are looking for something that is revolutionary and thought-provoking, but it is for you if you are okay with getting lost in trance music and an experiential story.

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