Names Unknown (Perariyathavar): Film Review – Each face tells a story

There are certain films out there that make you stop and think about the world around us. In the grand scheme of life, how many of us actually take a moment? But Names Unknown actually works. Directed by Dr. Biju, Perariyathavar is a Malayalam film that chronicles the lives of a sweeper and his son. Set in the streets of Kerala, this film takes you to a different world from your standard metros. Names Unknown is a must-watch, simply for the story and for the nameless faces that we all dismiss. 

Names Unknown, also known as Perariyathavar, is subtitled. Any film that is dubbed loses a bit of emotion. Keeping that in mind, Names Unknown is driven by the emotions of the actors. The story centers around a sweeper and his son. You are shown the way they live, the people they meet and the way they make ends meet. It doesn’t portray the plight of the less-fortunate as a documentary. There isn’t a clipped English accent telling us about the people. There is just the voice of a child, which defines the tone of the film. Innocent and dirty, beautiful and stark, painful and true, these are just a few of the adjectives that leap out at you. Sure, the pace of the film is slow, but it is meant to be. It sets the tone of the story. The sweeper and his son live in a shanty, surrounded by people who have a similar lot in life. This includes a crippled mechanic who drinks to sleep, a band master whose gigs are funerals, and a woman whose sole relief comes from her soap operas, just to name a few. Their stories are those that need to be heard. 
Suraj Venjaramoodu and Master Govardhan are brilliant as father and son. The connection that a father shares with his only son is shown beautifully. The music is sublime and adds to the film by giving it a melancholic touch. The main draw of this film is the story. It reveals so much and it doesn’t feel like a guilt trip. As the story unfolds, the plight of the nameless poor just leaps across from the screen. Dr. Biju gives a human touch to these stories. That makes Names Unknown meaningful and memorable. 
Why should you watch this film? 
Names Unknown gets under your skin before you know it. It takes a lot to make an impact on a jaded audience, and this film delivers that blow using a feather. It feels like a pin-prick right through the heart. You should watch it and remember that everyone has a story to tell. You just need to remember to stop and listen.

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