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cinema:tamil

Putham Pudhu Kaalai

As The Swivel Chair Spins #13

Anthologies are almost average at 3 out of 5. 

This three is not comparable to the three given to a novel. For the longer form of literature it could mean a “could have been better for all the effort”.

For a short story anthology , the three is a sign of the mixed bag, you never know what you are going to get, and you never know what you are going to like and when you are going to like. 

As days pass perhaps, a singular revisit might have me appreciating what was left behind and quietly accepting that segment for which I  once was over enthusiastic about, was just because of the age and frame of mind I read it in. 

Putham Pudhu Kaalai is also a three on five. 

But it safeguards itself in the sweetest way, so that there is nothing I could overtly dislike, but there was nothing which I was fond of too. Maybe it’s my age. 

Maybe it is about the fact that these stories are really not about anything, they are only placed together because they all revolve around the lockdown. 

I believe (and the Big Book of Jack The Ripper Stories sitting quietly in my Kindle would agree) that anthologies are not meant to be read at one go,they are after all mood pieces, so that’s there. 

A niggling three where you can never quite say what you didn’t like, but also cannot remember what the previous story was about. 

Which is exactly what happened when I was watching director Gautham Menon’s Avarum Naanum, Avalum Naanum (ANAN), the second segment, I forgot about Ilamai Idho Idho. 

Slightly zoned out I was, I guess, also maybe because there was a voice over in the first movie about ‘Kadhal” by R Madhavan, always a non starter. 

Also this is the one with Amazon Prime product placement with Alaipayuthey? Almost thought this was the GVM short, but it was not the Mani fanboi but in fact a Madras Talkies alumnus, Sudha Kongara about how love has no age and all that (insert yawn here) and love makes everyone look younger and all that (can we have another yawn here or is it too short?).

But when the scientist grandpa appeared in ANAN, I was awake, just earlier had slightly thought about sleeping again because the heroine character was doing classical GVM  by way of telling the story through voice over. 

No doubt, M S Bhaksar, is a spectacular artiste (notice how he says spectacular in the movie, haha got you there) and the short almost entirely rests on one of his monologues, but that’s about it, I didn’t get to know about the scientist more. 

While GVM only gave the skeletal frame to chew on, Suhasini Maniratnam’s next is the one with most characters and surprisingly we get to know a lot about them and even more surprisingly it was the one that spoke to me the most, I have my reasons. 

Coffee Anyone? 

I theorize this is the ladies of the Haasan family telling the stories of the brothers, it almost seems like it, I don’t know if Suhasini has spoken about this in any of the promotionals for the movie, but think about it, this short has three sisters Hasini, Anu and Shruti (as opposed to Charu, Chandra and Kamal) trying to grapple with the illness of their mother. The youngest daughter was born when the mother was almost 50, they say, another well documented Kamal family story and how he looked up to his brothers as parents. It’s a similar situation here along with the inversion, okay let’s just say I bought it because of the Kamal reason and some nonsense theory I was making in my head. 

I said reasons, so there is one more, because this is the one that feels almost like a horror film (and not another ‘kadhal’ short) and again with an inversion, which I would not like to spoil. 

There are things in Coffee Anyone which again doesn’t allow itself to punch its weight, like for example the dialogue till we will settle down with the characters and since it’s a short, well you know, it’s over. 

Reunion by Rajiv Menon has much in common with the two preceding shorts about the power of music to change lives (insert classical yawn) but it is also ‘of the moment’ because it deals with the problem of how difficult it is for celebrities to get drugs during the lockdown. 

I mean… 

Of course Oooo Lalala , music is the saviour. 

Even in the next one titled Miracle by Karthik Subbaraj, music (this time by Ilayaraaja) acts as a connector, it’s the most amusing one but falls into the category of ‘slice of life-fate’, you know the ones when you see it, A goes to B via C types. 

Types, I love using the types. I apparently also love typing, the document now indicates that I have written 800 words about Putham Pudhu Kaalai, I hope it means something to someone. 

<Read in Rajeev Masand voice> So I am going with 3 stars out of five for Putham Pudhu Kaalai, because…. Hmm… four of them looked like ad shoots for Bru (filter coffee? Idhu Bru Ma types) and one even had coffee in the title. 

Putham Pudhu Kaalai is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Categories
cinema

Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal

As The Swivel Chair Spins #5

Let me be honest, I underestimated what Kannum Kannum Kolaiyadhitaal was going to be. The first five minutes is just Dulquer Salman driving a car which says DQ on its license plate, there is also mention of his Kerala female fandom (yaawn), there was the genuinely irritating Vijay TV sidekick quota, it confirmed my fears that this was a generation film i.e not for me. 

I sat through nevertheless and things got interesting. 

After a song (or two, sorry didn’t notice) and usual love interlude, we really come to know what our heroes are up to: they are small cons who utilize the gaps in the ecommerce system to profit and they are of course not bound by any morals. But with them is that small niggling thought at the back  that they would be caught. 

If they have shown a thief, they will show police also- enter Gautham Menon as DCP Pratap Chakravarti (DCP PC?), how he will catch these small time crooks is the rest of the story. 

Or so I thought. 

Kannum Kannum Kollayadithal is that kind of movie that stacks up a bunch of carpets and pulls it one by one from under my feet. 

But thankfully I was seated.  

KKK is a very competent investigation thriller, the policemen use logic to get from one clue to another, it is also a competent heist film- be it in the objective, team assembly, planning and showing things when they don’t go according to plan. 

Lessons from the screenplay has a great video comparing two mission impossible films and how they execute their best heists, I would say KKK too has some elements of them in it and kudos for getting elemental genres right, it’s rare in a tamil film. 

But KKK is one of those rare things which try to show that they are about something, but is about something else and succeed in both- I am not getting into the morals portrayed but in a way a concept is presented. 

If you have not seen Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal then you should stop reading after this sentence. <SPOILERS> 

<SPOILERS, there is no other way to explain without going into spoilers sorry>

The concept of no one is a yogiyan (sorry couldn’t find an immediate english equivalent) is worked into the story and comes full circle, everybody is in some way a criminal and in some way there is no big or small crime- the magnitude of that doesn’t matter. 

But where the move falters is when it tries to become a hero and co winning just because they are hero and heroine types, but why, anyone could have won. It also falls into the Petta trap of suddenly making solid characters look weak so that the hero can win. 

I can disagree with the concept and still like the film. So in a film full of bad guys, does the hero heroine looking types win just because they are hero heroine types? 

Maybe DCP Pratap might ultimately catch up with them in the end? Maybe their money will dry out in Thailand and they will fully realize the folly in their lives? Maybe some natural tragedy will befall them. 

I closed the TV thinking, yeah they are happy for now, but not for long.Just like that final shot in the Graduate. Things happen to people. That’s just my coded narrative watching habits. 

In Moondru Deivangal, one of the finest Tamil movies ever made; Sivaji-Muthuraman-Nagesh play thieves who are out of jail and trying to con a very simple retailer, the goodness of their family ultimately changes the trio- but still they use their history tricks to protect this simpleton and ultimately go back to prison. 

Bad guys winning is fine, but for me it is more rewarding when they end up turning into good people, it’s a movie, it gives closure, it gives purpose for them to have been crooked in the first place. 

But closure as they say

But Dada Mirasi did it first

It is unfair to compare two movies, even if they are similar, there are other movies in which the relatively good-bad guys win like for example the Ocean’s trilogy which is a lot more than heist films, but it clearly establishes the meanest of the mean, the annoyerest among the annoyers.

Meanwhile in KKK, even GVM is smart, the drug dealer is smart and powerful but the guys getting away with it are just because they are like hero and heroine of this generation. That didn’t sit well. No it didn’t and pulling Oceans and Moondru Deivangal into this was a bad idea. 

Should have never done that. All I wanted to say is that you have introduced a concept very well- whatever be the morals, very convincingly but not going the full distance. Pch.

Still a very engaging watch.