Ms Representation: The grey shades of love

Valentine’s Day is just over, and love is still in the air. For Tamil cinema, that means bringing back the romance on-screen. And this is one genre that cannot exist without its women. As a female Tamil actor recently observed, women do not get meaty roles unless it is a romcom or a romantic drama. It might be a reflection of the limited roles and spaces we want to see women in, especially on-screen; nevertheless, the genre is crucial when speaking about women’s portrayal. Sure, it has its pitfalls. But, this genre has given us some terrific women characters and has done so more consistently than others. That said, as with every genre, romance also has its share of stereotypes. Kutty Story — the love anthology from Gautham Vasudev Menon, Nalan Kumarasamy, Venkat Prabhu, and Vijay — attempts to break a few of these.

Continue reading “Ms Representation: The grey shades of love”

Ms Representation: The honour that kills

Paava Kadhaigal (stories of sin in English) is quite the appropriate name for the new Netflix anthology, helmed by Sudha Kongara (Thangam), Vignesh Shivan (Love Panna Uttranum), Gautham Menon (Vaanmagal), and Vetri Maaran (Orr Iravu). In all of them, sin is at the centre, with the characters placing honour above love, family, and humanity. Another similarity here is that the victims are all women or those who identify as women. Honour and honour killings are usually associated with casteism, but I found Paava Kadhaigal to interpret honour in a different, more inclusive manner. It touches upon the complicated relationship women have with ‘honour’, and this goes beyond caste. The patriarchal society has saddled women with the responsibility of ‘honour’ for centuries, censoring their lives and choices. Ironically, Paavam is also an expression of sympathy in Tamil. There’s another layer then to this title, about stories that reflect the unfair universe that our women are bundled into.

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Putham Pudhu Kaalai review: Warm, but a tad too sweet

The pandemic, and the subsequent lockdown, has several faces. People on the streets without food or shelter, the vulnerable struggling to reclaim the little stability they had — that’s the scary face. The more privileged of us experienced a kinder side. It pushed us to introspect, contemplate on the multiple personas we have; discover and acknowledge the same in other people. Putham Pudhu Kaalai, Amazon Prime Video’s first Tamil anthology, has captured this benign side of the pandemic. (With the intense shooting restrictions, it might have been tougher to explore more dynamic scenarios) It was said that the anthology was about hope, second chances, and new beginnings. But for me, these shorts are also bound together by this introspection: the discovery of faces (both of ourselves and others) we had hidden from the world.

Despite being the closest people in our lives, they are also somehow the farthest from our truth. Four of the five shorts explore this irony in our families and relationships, In the case of Sudha Kongara’s Ilamai Idho Idho, it was about the forgotten individual behind the parent mask. We see another version of this in Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Avarum Naanum/Avalum Naanum. With Reunion (Rajiv Menon), it is about remembering our forgotten younger selves, and Coffee Anyone acknowledges the dynamic nature of human emotions. What we feel today about someone, may morph into something completely different tomorrow. Karthick Subbaraj’s Miracle stands alone in terms of tone and theme, exploring acceptance from a different vantage point, and providing a much-needed change in terms of socio-economic representation.

While all of them deal with interesting premises, Ilamai Idho Idho and Miracle make the best of the restricted time they are given with. To tell a story with nuance in 25 minutes is not particularly easy, but these two shorts do it well without incongruous exposition in terms of writing. In Ilamai Idho Idho (my favourite of the lot), not only does the writing swiftly establish the setting and characters, it creates enough space for organic cute moments between the couple. Despite the adorable chemistry between Kalyani Priyadarshan and Kalidas Jayaraman, I couldn’t help but wonder what the film would have been if it had been Jayaram and Urvashi throughout. I would love to see that thread fleshed out into a feature film. (A special shout out to GV Prakash and Kaber Vasuki for that nostalgic musical tidbits) Miracle, on the other hand, picks a smart premise and tells it with undeniable intrigue. One can sense Karthik Subbaraj’s comfort and experience in the space — as he delivers precisely what is required.

The other three shorts feel a bit rushed, resorting to some amount of exposition to create the nuance in their narratives. Nevertheless, we get some fine performances from the likes of MS Bhaskar and Andrea, who breeze through their roles. One can also feel the restrictions in terms of space, but the shorts manage it well. They look good even if there are more hand-held shots than one bargained for.

Are these short films glossy? Yes. Could they have had more emotional gravitas? Yes. But they work as small, shiny nuggets of warmth. These are also stories you don’t generally find on the big-screen. Thus, It marks an interesting journey of experimentation. With the pandemic, several big-wigs have begun to make content for the digital space, with anthologies becoming the ‘form of the season’. So, I am treating this as the new beginning, a hopeful one, for better narratives in the future.

It’s now time to reap the benefits of my 23-year career: Arun Vijay

It’s been more than two decades since Arun Vijay made his debut with Sundar C’s Murai Mappillai (1995). The actor has now touched the 25-film mark with Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam. Terming the current period as his time in the spotlight, Arun Vijay talks about his career, and how he’s learned from his mistakes.

Excerpts from the conversation: Continue reading “It’s now time to reap the benefits of my 23-year career: Arun Vijay”

Kind of Gautham sir to apologise, but I don’t agree with all he has said. Will furnish proof soon: Karthick Naren on Naragasooran row

Hours after Gautham Vasudev Menon posted a note on Twitter, Karthick Naren has responded saying that he has proof about the funds received for Naragasooran. Speaking to, the young filmmaker said, “It was very kind of Gautham sir to apologise. We apologise as well if there has been any such thing from our side. But I don’t completely agree with what he has said.” He further said rather than accusing Gautham of anything, they just want to furnish facts of what happened. “I received personal calls from people whom he gave the money to. It was a friendly heads-up asking me to look into it and that is how we came to know about it. We have the documents and we will share the same in a couple of days,” said Karthick. Continue reading “Kind of Gautham sir to apologise, but I don’t agree with all he has said. Will furnish proof soon: Karthick Naren on Naragasooran row”

Being an introvert, my work has helped me to express: Kaali actor Sunainaa

Fresh out of school, Sunainaa was just 16 years old when she entered Kollywood with Kadhalil Vizhunthen. The cherubic Sunainaa quickly found a space for herself with films like Masilamani and Samar. And then came Neerparavai for she received several accolades. But that didn’t make Sunaina stick to similar kind of roles — even the lead roles. In the decade under the spotlight, she has quietly carved a space that she is content with by picking roles that satisfy her. Continue reading “Being an introvert, my work has helped me to express: Kaali actor Sunainaa”

Goli Soda 2 movie review: A collection of well-intentioned dialogues that don’t really come together as a film

‘Marangal aada maruthalum kaatru viduvathilai’ (The wind refuses to let the trees alone, even if they refuse to sway to its tunes.) The line seems to be earmarked by Maaran (Bharat Seeni). When we get introduced to the line, we think it is about him. Maaran works as a driver to the usual amalgamation of the politician, rowdy, and businessman, Thuraimugam Thillai. And, Maaran’s girlfriend isn’t okay with him working for Thillai. Maaran stops working for him but Thillai makes sure he doesn’t land a job anywhere else. But as the movie progresses, you see the emotion extend to the other two – Oli (Essaki Bharath) and Auto Siva (Vinoth). They refuse to be bound by their current situations. As Siva says, “Naanga thaguthi ku meeri aasa padla. Thaguthi a valathika than aasapadrom (We are not aspiring for a life that is beyond our means, but rather looking for ways to improve our value.). In short, they are the trees Milton is referring to.

Continue reading “Goli Soda 2 movie review: A collection of well-intentioned dialogues that don’t really come together as a film”

Lakshmi short film review: Why we need to re-think about how we see women on screen

The first few minutes of Lakshmi is drained out of colours, just like the life of its lead character. We see the eponymous Lakshmi (an effective Lakshmi Priya Chandramouli) go about her day. The monotony sets in; even more so as her husband rolls on top of her every night without a second glance at her. There is also a hint that the husband might be involved with another woman. Hues starts to colour Lakshmi’s life as she meets an attractive man on the train. She finds herself smiling involuntarily, indulging in the guilty joy that unsolicited attention provides. Until a bandh drives their paths closer. Charmed by the man, Lakshmi ends up in his house and eventually in his bed. Continue reading “Lakshmi short film review: Why we need to re-think about how we see women on screen”

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