Written by Siddhartha Krishnan . 4 Min Read
The trailer of the Netflix anthology ‘Paava Kadhaigal‘ promises four gut wrenching stories, and it delivers. However, this isn’t a celebration of pathos nor an overplay of grotesqueries. It’s a film that mirrors the evils that we have created, nurtured and stood by. It shows that the systemic problems and crimes that flourish in a patriarchal order, have put the victim and the perpetrator in a vicious circle, that is difficult to come out of. The film manages to shock you because all that you have considered safe—like your house, your family have become nurturing ground for evil. And, while we think that this will not happen to us, we are certain that this has happened somewhere. It’s this realism which keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout the film, despite its apparent flaws.
Four talented filmmakers have come together to tell these compelling stories, while lending their unique voice to it. Hence, even though there is a common thread— ‘honour killings’, the stories as well as the storytelling are all different in its own way.
In Sudha Kongara’s, ‘Thangam’ (My Precious) a transperson harbours dreams of a different life for which he has been saving money. He is unapologetic about his identity so, he is unaffected by the noise that surrounds him. But things don’t work out as planned and the ones out to cut his wings are his own. While the film resorts to melodrama at places, it still manages to convey the anguish in a way that will linger. The performance by Kalidas Jayaram in the lead role of ‘Sathaar’ was exceptional. The cinematography by Jomon T John and music by Justin Prabhakar also elevate the film considerably.
Vignesh Sivan’s ‘Love Panna Uttranum’ (Let Them Love) is a film about two twin sisters out to break the news of their choice of partners to their politician father, whom they believe has changed over the years. Although, dark humour is the chosen tone for this film, it addresses the deep-rooted problem of casteism while exposing the hypocrisy that pervades it all. In the end, is there really a choice, the film asks? The writing of this film could have been tighter, especially the end which felt a bit abrupt. The performances by Padam Kumar in the role of ‘Veersimman’ and Jaffer Sadiq as ‘Mr. Narikutty’ deserves a special mention.
The third film ‘Vaanmagal’ (Daughter of the Skies) directed by Gautam Vasudev Menon is about a traumatic incident that happens in the life of a closely knit family and how things spiral down from there. The film explores how even so-called regular folks can be driven to insanity by the noise that society creates, thereby, clouding their reasoning and testing their morality. The ending of the film will shock and then soothe in equal measure, which is a result of some clever writing. Simran in the role of the mother ‘Mathi’ does full justice to her part and the music by Karthik creates the desired impact.
The last film ‘Orr Iravu’ (That Night) directed by Vetri Maaran is perhaps the most difficult film to watch in this anthology. While this is clearly the director’s comfort zone, he surely brings on his A-game. It’s a slow burn which gradually proceeds towards a sudden switch that works like a magic trick. From there on, the scenes become nauseous to watch, as the director shows his craft as well as the power of this medium. The performances by Prakash Raj and Sai Pallavi, are going to be talked about for years to come. The cinematography by S. Suresh Bala and sound design by T. Udayakumar was stellar. This was a near perfect film.
If you are to review these films from a pure filmmaking perspective you might find a few flaws, here and there, especially in the writing in some of them. However, what is not questionable is the honesty with which all of these directors have approached their respective films. For some it was a clear departure from what they usually make. However, together, they have been able to ask some important questions without being sanctimonious with their messaging. For this reason, ‘Paava Kadhaigal’ is an essential watch. It throws in all the requisite punches, making you feel uncomfortable at places but keeping you engaged till the end. The film deserves a 4/5. Watch it on Netflix.
Pic credits: the hindu, koimoi.com, quint, binged.com, imdb and pinkvilla
Siddhartha Krishnan is the author of Two and a Half Rainbows – A Collection of Short Stories.
He is also an enthusiastic blogger and on his website www.whatsonsidsmind.com, he regularly puts out his essays, articles, travelogues and film reviews.
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Thanks for this. We are always looking for films that have meaning and are done with excellence. International films seem to be making up for most of what is made in the US today. We will be watching these and learning from them.
Thanks. I am sure you will like the film.