Aruvi (Eng: Waterfalls) is a 2017 Indian Tamil socio-political drama film written and directed by Arun Prabu Purushothaman, in his debut film. The film portrays the events that occur in the life of Aruvi (Aditi Balan), a rebellious young woman who seeks to expose the consumerist and misogynistic nature of modern civilisation, while attempting to find meaning during a period of existential crisis.
The movie was produced by Dream Warrior Pictures and was released globally on 15 December 2017. It received widespread critical acclaim, with praise directed towards the performances of the cast and the film’s direction. It was a blockbuster by grossing 35 times its budget.
The film begins with Aruvi (Aditi Balan) and Emily (Anjali Varadhan) being interrogated by Shakeel (Mohammed Ali Baig) who suspects them to be part of a terrorist organization. Aruvi’s parents and friends are called for interrogation who talk about her childhood and adolescent ages. She is a pampered, innocent girl from a middle class family. Things then take a turn as her family turns against her for some unknown reason and her father kicks her out.
She stays with her college friend Jessy for a while, then moves to a hostel and lives with Emily, who is a transgender woman. They work under Arulmani as tailors in an NGO. One day, she goes to Arulmani crying, asking for a loan of 1 lakh rupees, as her father is sick. She then takes off and doesn’t return. Occasionally, she undergoes touch therapy with a swamiji who uses hypnosis to heal stress.
Emily is seen in the sets of “solvathellam sathyam,” a reality show that showcases people’s problems on TV. She complains about three men who raped her friend Aruvi. The Assistant Director Peter (Pradeep Antony) agrees to telecast their problem and calls the three men for interrogation.
Next morning, shooting starts as the host (Lakshmi Gopalaswamy) asks Aruvi to narrate what happened to her. She then explains that the three men are Jessy’s father Joseph, Arulmani and the swamiji. Joseph had sexually abused her when she took shelter in his house. Arulmani had taken advantage of her situation when she begged for a loan and the swamiji had hypnotized and raped her. Aruvi then reveals that she has had AIDS from the past 2 years. The infection seems to have entered through an accident, where an open wound was exposed to a carrier of HIV. She meets her friend Emily in an NGO as both of them have AIDS. Aruvi asks the three men to apologize, but Lakshmi turns against her, accusing her of intentionally infecting those men. Aruvi is appalled and states everything wrong with the society and the unnecessary stereotypes that every common man has to conform to, in order to fit into this consumeristic world.
The director uses all this drama to his advantage as this would improve his show’s TRP rating. Aruvi pulls out a gun and shoots the director in the arm. Later, she calms herself and apologizes to everyone, but as she gets up to leave, Arulmani tackles her and hits Emily. This maddens Aruvi and she points the gun at him and takes everyone hostage. Hearing the gun shots, police start surrounding the studio suspecting terrorist activity. Aruvi then plays “spin the bottle.” Whoever the bottle points at, should do whatever Aruvi says, else they would be shot. Aruvi then makes everyone do silly things as she watches, in her own way of getting back at the society that forced her into so much pain. As a part of the game, Aruvi asks Peter to propose to her which he does not do properly; so she asks him to narrate a story and he tells a story as follows: An old man happily spends his life in his village. Soon after, there happens a theft in that village for which the old man is suspected even by his own family members, which forces him to leave the village and go. During the last stages of life he remembers his past happy life and writes a letter about everything he feels to the members of his village, which he hands over to a young man in that village, who then moves to a tea shop buys a cigarette and smokes; thereafter he calls all the people who know that old man to go in search of him and find him and the story ends with the old man smiling where the story is freezed. During the game, everyone becomes friendly with Aruvi. She even forgives the three men who raped her.
She then surrenders to the police. Since Aruvi and Emily are AIDS patients, they cannot be arrested and have to be isolated Inside the camp, Aruvi’s condition continues to deteriorate as she loses a lot of weight and becomes incapable of taking care of herself. One night, she disappears from the camp and moves to a village all alone. After a few days, all acquaintances of her receive a video on Facebook. The video shows her crying and explaining how she misses everyone and speaks about all the regrets in her life. On seeing the video, Peter gathers everyone and takes them to the village in which she currently resides (as he told the story to Aruvi for which she told that such a thing will never happen). She is finally surrounded by everyone she loves towards the end of her lifetime. Everyone she loved gave her a lot of gifts like cakes, pictures and lot. One such gift is from Peter, who gave Aruvi a greeting card, written ” Love you Aruvi, Peter”. Peter actually proposed to her in the way she liked. Then she smiled at him and was happy. And Aruvi asks Subash to spin the bottle as she did during the time of hostage and the bottle stops pointing at her which means that she can do whatever she wants till the end of her lifetime. The movie ends with Peter capturing the image of Aruvi smiling.
Directed by Arun Prabu Purushothaman
Produced by S. R. Prabhu & S. R. Prakashbabu
Written by Arun Prabu Purushothaman
Starring Aditi Balan, Anjali Varadhan, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy
Music by Bindhu Malini & Vedanth Bharadwaj
Cinematography Shelley Calist
Edited by Raymond Derrick Crasta
Production Dream Warrior Pictures
Distributed by Dream Warrior Pictures
Release date 14 June 2016 (Shanghai) 15 December 2017
Running time 130 minutes