ranganDirectors: Sudha Kongara, Vignesh Shivan, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Vetri Maaran
Solid: Kalidas Jayaram, Shanthnu Bhagyaraj, Anjali, Kalki Koechlin, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Simran, Sai Pallavi, Prakash Raj
Sudha Kongara’s Thangam is the proper begin to Netflix’s four-episode Paava Kadhaigal. It establishes the anthology’s theme within the broadest and loosest sense, and this theme is “honour”: maanam. Among the many first photos we get is that of Sathaar (Kalidas Jayaram) admiring himself in a mirror. “Himself” might be not the correct phrase. Sathaar would like “herself.” He’s saving up for a gender-reassignment surgical procedure and he refers to himself within the female, which will need to have been extremely tough to cope with in 1981, the time the movie is ready in. However then, with Sathaar, I suppose there wasn’t precisely an possibility. Together with his swinging gait and lilting speech, he isn’t “manly” within the standard sense – whether or not he needed it or not, he was all the time “out”. And so he most likely thought he may as effectively go all out: line his eyes with kohl, dye his lips with betel juice, and hope that his love (for a person) is reciprocated.
It is a sensible, uncommon tackle the concept of “honour”, which we normally – within the films, and in these “Love Jihad” instances – affiliate with caste and faith. Right here, the phrase is linked to gender. The query shifts from “What in case you are a Hindu and fall for a Muslim?” or “What should you belong to an oppressed caste and marry somebody from a dominant caste?” to “What in case you are a person and need to be a girl?”
The very best factor about Sathaar, a minimum of for some time, is that he’s no “sufferer”, bemoaning his destiny. He revels in how uncomfortable he makes folks. He revels in double-meaning strains. And he’s bracingly sensible about his prospects. He is aware of who he needs, however as soon as he realises it’s not going to occur, he says to himself: “Okay, what subsequent!” He does throw a sulking match (he’s not a saint, in any case), however he will get over it. So when Tamil cinema’s most celebrated ode to one-sided love (Oru Thalai Raagam) performs within the native theatre, the concept is grandly sentimental however the execution isn’t. We’re reminded of Sathaar’s state of affairs, however we aren’t made to wallow in it.
Sudha makes a really attention-grabbing alternative about having a key character off-screen as we’re instructed what occurred to him/her. One a part of this part – which additionally entails Saravanan (Shanthnu Bhagyaraj) and Sahira (Bhavani Sre) – is seen by means of another person’s eyes. However when the opposite half begins – it’s the dramatisation (with this so-far-hidden character now proven) – I discovered it an excessive amount of, too melodramatic. However the emotional logic is sound: Sathaar’s non-public ache is his personal, and he himself (i.e. voluntarily) won’t share it with anybody else. (Therefore, the narration by means of another person.) And Kalidas Jayaram makes you stick to Sathaar. There’s one thing splendidly dreamy and delicate in regards to the actor, and with out overplaying the person/girl cut up inside Sathaar, he brings to life a individual – somebody in a patriarchal, tradition-bound Kovai district who “dis-honours” his folks by means of no fault of his personal.
Together with the theme of “honour”, I ponder if the 4 administrators have been additionally requested to provide variations on the color crimson. It’s the shade of a scarf (or possibly a prayer mat) in Sudha’s episode. It’s the color of just a little lady’s costume in Gautham Vasudev Menon’s episode. It’s the color of blood in Vetri Maaran’s episode. And in Vignesh Shivan’s Love Panna Uttranum, it’s a shade of sunshine that falls on Anjali’s face. She performs twins named Aadhi and Jothi. Each fall in love with candidates who’ll dis-honour their household, particularly their father Veerasimman (Padam Kumar) who goes about “supporting” inter-caste marriages in public. As in Thangam, the ghastliest prevalence is saved off-screen. (Keep in mind this if you see Vetri Maaran’s episode, the place the ghastliest prevalence performs out in excruciating element.) However the tonality is delightfully off, delightfully Vignesh Shivan.
Reviewing Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, I wrote: “I haven’t laughed this difficult over harmless males being snuffed out by a silencer-outfitted gun.” Effectively, I haven’t laughed this difficult over a narrative with an honour-killing both. It is a welcome return to type for Vignesh Shivan, who had a somewhat generic outing with Thaanaa Serndha Koottam. His stamp is far and wide. The language is particularly ingenious. Be careful for an area man’s pronunciation of the unique Penelope’s (Kalki Koechlin) identify, or her lip-smacking punch line (within the type of a cuss phrase) in the direction of the tip. The episode is totally unpredictable, and the wacky camerawork (Theni Eshwar is the cinematographer) is totally in sync, proper from the early level Narikutti (Jaffer Sadiq) jumps off the again of a jeep.
The one misstep is a track, which underlines one thing we’ve already been seeing and listening to all through the remainder of the brief. I felt this with the movies by Sudha and Gautham, too. Vetri Maaran, properly, avoids a musical interlude. He even (mercifully) avoids a background rating, for a big half, and makes you see robust filmmaker doesn’t want the manipulative crutches of music. (After all, he can’t afford to do that in a theatrical function, however isn’t that why we have now OTT – so our filmmakers can free themselves in methods they can not when making films with The Viewers
Gautham Vasudev Menon performs a Gautham Vasudev Menon Dad
The director has the idea of maanam handled by everybody within the family: the daddy, the mom, the brother, and the older sister whose onset of puberty makes the youthful one want for the same ceremony of passage. However she turns into an “grownup” in a approach nobody may have anticipated. Simran is chilling in a scene the place Mathi pours mugfuls of water on one thing that she now considers “polluted”, hoping she will wash the air pollution away. It is a girl who received’t even take the plastic casing off the seats within the household automotive, so the seats keep “pure” without end. Even when speaking of the feminine physique, she refers to it within the “purest” of phrases: as a temple. Think about her plight when… The center simply stops if you get to the “did she actually simply try this?” scene. The act of bodily violence perpetrated by her son appears virtually irrelevant when in comparison with the psychological violence this girl unleashes.
Gautham is extraordinarily transferring within the scene the place he says he feels bare, and it’s a dimension we haven’t seen in Tamil cinema: the place you not simply confer with a sexual act however think about it. (Big props to OTT for making these eventualities potential.) However the largest shock is that – should you comply with the Netflix-recommended order of episodes – Vaanmagal incorporates a large spoiler for Vetri Maaran’s story, titled Oor Iravu. The little lady in Vaanmagal even resembles Sai Pallavi, who performs the daughter (named Sumathi) who marries a Dalit, Hari (Hari). Prakash Raj performs Sumathi’s father, and his character is revealed within the screenplay’s neatest trick. Because the movie opens, Sumathi is in her hometown, in her dad and mom’ home. She’s trying to find her father. CUT TO: a doorbell ringing. She opens the door, and “finds” her father exterior. Solely, this can be a completely different timeline, and a special place (a giant metropolis). We get completely different palettes, too: the colour-graded heat of the hometown parts versus the matter-of-fact coolness of the Sumathi-Hari family.
On the floor, Oor Iravu is probably the most “standard” of the 4 episodes. The maanam concern is the one we have now seen probably the most within the films: dominant caste versus oppressed caste. It’s not filtered by means of, say, gender, like in Sudha’s movie. The tone is dead-serious. There’s no up-yours flippancy, like in Vignesh’s movie. The gaze is that of a patriarch: the Prakash Raj character. The mom (splendidly performed by Aathira) is sidelined by her husband’s supremacy, in contrast to in Gautham’s movie. Even the “twist” just isn’t a lot of a shock, should you assume again to Aadukalam and recall the digital camera trailing a person carrying a yellow plastic bag crammed with money. There’s the same waist-level shot right here, round mid-point, and your antenna goes up. You recognize our focus is being sharpened. The shot means one thing. (Suresh Bala is the cinematographer.)
And but, Vetri Maaran’s is probably the most highly effective, most gut-churning installment. There’s a chronic stretch of agony that appears infinite: for the daddy, for the daughter, and for the viewers. The home turns into a personality of its personal, with its clearly established geography. Sai Pallavi (who will get the extra expressive half) and Prakash Raj (who will get to be extra contained) are glorious. My favorite second is when a pregnant Sumathi takes her father to her yoga class, and he waits exterior. At one level, he appears to be like in by means of the door and their eyes meet. An entire novel might be written in regards to the ideas working by means of the person’s thoughts. Elsewhere, when he all of a sudden raises his voice amidst the silence of the home, it’s chilling – all of the extra so as a result of Vetri Maraan doesn’t vulgarise his storytelling with a continuing background rating.
It might appear unusual to say this, given Vetri Maaran’s terrific run of movies (even the strong Asuran appeared a “lesser” work solely by his requirements), however Oor Iravu is his best-directed work. His management is breathtaking, and I feel the focussed storyline is a minimum of one cause. Often, he goes for a number of characters, a number of timelines – and this leads to (inevitably) fragmented narratives the place scene choreography is usually compromised. (He retains reducing always.) Right here, there’s lots of keep. This can be his most exquisitely framed movie but. If the Prakash Raj character’s home is established with a single unbroken shot, we don’t get the same smoothness in Sumathi’s condo, the place every room is offered with a reduce. However nothing is exaggerated, nothing appears like a flourish. Proper right down to the small close-in on a personality’s face on the finish, each alternative feels excellent.
I smiled on the contact the place Hari is seen utilizing a juicer, in distinction to the Prakash Raj character’s family the place the kitchen is crammed with ladies (and solely ladies). In a small approach, it makes a much bigger level – that the “roles” imposed on us by society will not be inflexible, that change is all the time potential. However possibly that’s true solely in a giant metropolis. As a result of as soon as the narrative shifts to Sumathi’s hometown, Hari is totally sidelined (or ought to we are saying “marginalised”)! Sumathi’s siblings converse longingly of the “free” life she leads however they know that by eloping with Hari, she has basically ensured their imprisonment. Lastly, Sumathi is “imprisoned”, too. We get a line that claims: Edhuvume maaraadhu. (Nothing will change.) Is that this pessimism or easy, unvarnished actuality? Vetri Maaran makes us surprise.