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.

Sarvam Thaala Mayam is a joyous tale: Rajiv Menon

As Rajiv Menon talks, it is fascinating to see how he seamlessly eases into a tune or two in between the silences. “There is Thaalam in everything. Sita Kalyanam, a song sung at Brahmin weddings, is the same raaga as Kuttanadan Punjaiyile, a song sung by men at boat races,” he explains. This omnipresence of music is what he wishes to bring out with his new film, Sarvam Thaala Mayam. The film documents the life journey of an aspirant mridangist who wishes to break communal hurdles. “All of us have an innate sense of rhythm. Only if I kindle that emotion will the film not get stuck within an instrument. It’s meant to appeal to the sense of music in us,” he explains.

Read the entire conversation here…

https://www.cinemaexpress.com/stories/interviews/2019/jan/28/sarvam-thaala-mayam-is-a-joyous-tale-rajiv-menon-9826.html

The interview in video:

Sarvam Thaala Mayam review: An important story, but an inconsistent film

Rajiv Menon’s Sarvam Thaala Mayam is one film that I had been waiting to see for quite some time. Not just because I like Rajiv’s body of work, (Kandukondein Kandukondein is one of my favourite films, period.) but also due to the nature of the film. It follows the story of Peter Johnson (GV Prakash Kumar), a Dalit Christian who aspires to become a Mridangist and break into the ranks of sabha artists. The storyline was of immediate interest, not just due to the casteism angle, but also due to the choice of instrument that it puts under the spotlight.

Continue reading “Sarvam Thaala Mayam review: An important story, but an inconsistent film”

I wanted to prove that I can be dynamic as an actor: GV Prakash on Bala’s Naachiyaar

“At first, I wanted to be an entertainer,” starts GV Prakash Kumar as we talk about his acting plunge, on the eve of his latest release Naachiyaar. An established, successful music director, not many expected GV to venture into acting. But the boyishly-handsome composer quickly created a space for himself with several comedy and youth-centric films such as Darling, Trisha Ilana Nayanthara etc. “Initially, I wanted to become a star and that is what I focused on. But after dipping my feet in, I felt that I had to do justice to the profession. I wanted to prove that I could be dynamic as a performer,” discloses GV Prakash Kumar. And what could be apter than a Bala film? “When Naachiyaar came up to me, I felt that this was the right opportunity. I took it as a challenge.” Continue reading “I wanted to prove that I can be dynamic as an actor: GV Prakash on Bala’s Naachiyaar”

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