Parking(Tamil; Streaming On Disney + Hotstar)

Starring Harish Kalyan, M. S. Bhaskar, Indhuja Ravichandran

Written & Directed by Ramkumar Balakrishnan

Rating: ***

What starts as a neighbourly argument turns into a fullblown murderous revenge binge in this well-written and sensibly directed drama of spatial dispute.

The setting is a cosy two-storey home nestled in a bylane of Chennai. An elderly government official Ilamparuthi(M s Bhaskar) occupies the ground floor with his wife and teenaged daughter. Trouble arrives when Eeshwar moves in with his pregnant wife, buys a swanky new car and parks in the space below , next to Ilamparuthi’s humble two-wheeler.

It is an automobile versus a motorbike battle of wheels from here onwards.

The writing is muscular and fluent while the tensions brew between the two tenants.Once the hostility erupts into a breaking point, the narration loses its levity, becomes way too burdened with the task of amping the tension factor constantly. Consequently, the tone goes from Tom & Jerry to Freddy Krueger.

The tipping points are sometimes so self-important they seem silly.

Nonetheless the endproduct has enough of a spark and selfcontrol(minimalistic soundtrack and camerawork) to set the pulses soaring intermittently. The routine setting and ordinary workaday characters add considerably to the overall tension.

Debutant director Ramkumar Balakrishnan shoots the two floors of the home as a geographically aligned location. We get a sense of orientation in the proceedings soon after the film begins.As the narration gets progressively anxious, the locational surety rapidly loses its validity.

M.S.Bhaskar and Harish Kalyan remain in character even when the screenplay does its own somersaults. Both actors , especially veteran Bhaskar bring out the absurdity of their characters’ gathering tension. If this comedy-horror(for the want of a better genre description) were to be made in Hindi in the 1970s it would probably feature Utpal Dutt and Amol Palekar.

A sense of ordinariness in the characters underlines their weird battle of wits. I only wish the writer-director had more control over the second-half. The aptly titled Parking is no Driving Licence, the Malayalam film in which Prithviraj Sukumaran locked horns with Sooraj Venjaramoodu. But it is freshly written and discreetly enjoyable.