Putham Pudhu Kaalai, the new Tamil anthology film is a diverse mix of interesting stories set in the backdrop of these unprecedented days of lockdown. These are pretty much a scaled-up version of short films that the makers had to shoot in a very constrained environment. The philosophy ultimately is to offer the viewer something optimistic. And the anthology structure helps the movie to bring in that element of positivity at regular intervals of time.
SPOILER ALERT! I hope the first paragraph was enough to understand whether I am recommending this movie or not. The rest of the review will be about the five petals in this anthology and may have spoilers, so it will be better to go through the views after watching the movie.
The first one is Ilamai Idho Idho is directed by Sudha Kongara. The movie’s focus is on the romance of the elderly. Rajiv Padhmanabhan and Lakshmi Krishnan who are seemingly in their ‘50s are our main characters. We are not given a clear picture of what happened to their respective partners, but these two are in a relationship that their kids are yet to discover. The movie basically shows us what happened when their plan for a two-day escapade coincided with the 21-day lockdown that got announced suddenly.
If you look at it, it is a pretty simple and guessable idea of two people getting to know the real versions of each other during a lockdown-like scenario. But Sudha Kongara and writers Shruti Ramachandran and Francis Thomas decides to show us the excitement and youthfulness in them by making the characters younger. You get to see Jayaram and Urvashi playing the protagonists in the movie and Kalidas Jayaram and Kalyani Priyadarshan are playing their younger version respectively. This casting was what made it all the more unique and I must say that the four of them were performing with ease, especially the young ones.
Avarum Naanum Avalum Naanum directed by Gautam Vasudeva Menon is also something that is predictable on the surface level but works largely because of the seemingly minor yet major tweak towards the end. The movie is written by Reshma Ghatala, and Ritu Varma and MS Baaskar play the roles of a granddaughter and grandfather respectively. Granddaughter is there to take care of her grandparent because of the lockdown scenario. And there is a lack of bonding between the two and that is because her grandfather never accepted her mother for marrying someone whom he never approved.
The movie is narrated from the point of view of Ritu Varma’s character and one may feel that the justification we would eventually hear from the grandparent would somehow try to justify the whole arranged marriage idea. But Reshma’s script decides to focus on personal qualities such as understanding and appreciation rather than going after the clichéd reasons for being old school. And the healing nature of the story ultimately provides the happiness one would expect from the story.
Even though the innocence in the final bits of “Coffee anyone?” gave me that emotional gooseflesh, this movie co-written and directed by Suhasini Mani Ratnam was my least favorite among the five movies. The major reason for that was the way it was written. The movie was way too vocal in its efforts to explain the characters. It is about three sisters who are in a way independent and strong because of their mother. But rather than making us feel the strength or fight of those characters, Suhasini is trying to make them speak about their struggle through the dialogues. The challenge or uniqueness of the short film format is how someone can manage to tell a bigger story within a smaller span of time and among the five films, Coffee Anyone wasn’t doing that bit in an impressive way. As I already said, the last bits of this movie is extremely heartwarming. So it doesn’t really disrupt the rhythm of the anthology.
Rajiv Menon’s Reunion was pretty much like a full-blown movie in terms of structuring. While other films had an episodic feel, his movie with Andrea Jeremiah, Leela Samson, and Gurucharan felt like a really good feel-good romcom. It is about two college friends named Sadhana and Vikram, both of them used to be really good singers back in the day. Now Sadhana is the only one who is pursuing that passion and the “nerd” Vikram is now a doctor. Reunion shows us the events that happen at Vikram’s house when he and his mother insist Sadhana who paid them a visit on her way back home to stay at their home for a few days since traveling wasn’t a safe option.
What I felt nice about the movie is that it isn’t trying to project the feel-good stuff that feels impractical. The element that creates drama in this movie is a very sensitive topic and Rajiv Menon does make sure that he isn’t making it sound like a simple problem. He is packaging nostalgia and teenage love into something that doesn’t feel cheesy at all. The performances were really smooth in this movie and the warm chemistry between the characters works in favor of the film.
I am a fan of dark and quirky comedy and the last film in this anthology, directed by Karthik Subbaraj was my personal favorite. Karthik has gone for a story that is totally in his zone and one can see all his signature elements in this dark comedy. Titled Miracle, the movie almost feels like a spoof on “Law of Attraction”. The writing here is very clever in my opinion. Karthik knows the fact that the audience will be trying to break the suspense in their head. And he decides to add more and more layers to the suspense that gets revealed in a hilarious way. The performances of Bobby Simha and Sharath Ravi as the buffoonish thieves increase the humor quotient of Miracle.
With four stories about various dimensions of relationships along with one funny dark comedy, Putham Pudhu Kaalai is pleasant, relatable, and fun to watch. Most of the actors seem to be enjoying the characters given to them which are away from the typical roles they used to play in mainstream cinema. All of them end with a sense of optimism in a way that suits the setting of the respective movies.
With four stories about various dimensions of relationships along with one funny dark comedy, Putham Pudhu Kaalai is pleasant, relatable, and fun to watch.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended