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.
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.
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.