Nature is an ubiquitous aspect in Peranbu. It’s there, literally in every frame, when it’s not doing the rounds figuratively in the metaphors doled out. It’s the inundating solicitous character that constantly lends to the mood of the drama, while not contributing to it. It’s even a motif and only fittingly finds itself in the name of every chapter, the movie is deconstructed into.
So Amudhavan’s wife elopes, leaving him stranded with his spastic daughter, who has hitherto been a distant scenery in his convenient life in a land far off, that has let him be the secondary parent. And like that, life quickly becomes the middle part of a sandwich, between a condescending society and a special child, who screams(quite literally) for attention, to only reject it. This conundrum makes him take up a life of isolation, devoid of judgement in the wilderness. Trapped with a spastic daughter, who is yet to acknowledge his territory, the solace in the woods is initially unsettling. But then with time, the healing begins. It comes fortuitously in the form of a trapped sparrow, he helps set free. She opens up a little and he gets a gist. Next, he turns up with a pet horse and her face gleams up. He gets a pattern. It’s through nature, can he decipher her.
He stops trying to understand her, begins embracing her with her imperfections. Slowly the imperfections melt into uniqueness. A bond develops. Prejudice melts. Rough edges begin to soften at nature’s chisel. We see a restless man mellow down. A creature of urbanisation, finding peace in his primal self. We never really know whether the woods brought this out in him or merely facilitated this transition, explicitly. We just get a sense of this through Mammootty’s internalised performance, which is just about visible enough to be felt. It is around the half way mark, we get to see the largehearted man he has turned into in the empathy he displays to a couple who’ve just conned him. As this newly minted man on the cusp of another identity, he returns to the chaos of the city with his daughter to only get asked more questions.
His spastic daughter on the verge of womanhood begins expressing herself lasciviously. He’d doubled up as mother and father in the woods. Changed her tampons even. The boundless nature around them had rendered gender minuscule, helped him move past the icky line. But there’s only so far a man can go as far as the needs of his daughter go. And it doesn’t help that this phase comes in a place with it’s constant four walled judgement , trained spirit of survival and an absolute intolerance to anything deemed extraordinary. It’s at this point that Meera, a transsexual sex worker— personifying the very ambivalence in his mind — enters his life. Unlike other men, he neither judges her for who she is or what she does. And through this relationship, he learns to— at least tries — grapple with his daughter’s sexual needs objectively without getting offended.
In the end, the journey of self discovery that began when his wife eloped comes a full circle, with him starting a family with Meera. Every conventional distinction he’s been taught to make between- right and wrong; man and woman; appropriate and inappropriate blur out as he happily observes the two unique women in his life bond. Amudhavan finally becomes a man capable of unconditional love(Peranbu).