What makes the anthology engaging to an extent is the flawless performances of lead artistes
Last Updated: 03.08 AM, Jan 14, 2022
A still from the anthology
Story: The five-part anthology which is a spiritual sequel to Putham Pudhu Kaalai (2020), has segments of around 30 minutes, each helmed by different filmmakers. What connects the first and second instalment is the lockdown backdrop against which the stories are set. However, the scenarios, characters and emotions differ. While the first part had all its five segments in the backdrop of first lockdown, this time, the characters here face the brunt of second lockdown which was even more severe.
Review: Amazon Prime Video's Putham Pudhu Kaalai was a different experience for Tamil movie buffs as it was the first anthology to have dropped post the lockdown. Despite some flaws, the performances of a few veteran actors and the craft of some of the experienced filmmakers made the anthology a decent attempt. Audience could relate to the lockdown backdrop in all the five segments to a good extent.
The announcement of Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa which was made a couple of weeks ago piqued the curiousity of film buffs because of the comparatively young names involved in it, contrasting to the veterans in the first instalment. The idea of another five-part anthology set against the second lockdown is an intriguing idea considering the fact that people have started living their lives with the new normal.
Balaji Mohan's Mugakavasa Mutham revolves around Murugan (Teejay Arunasalam) and Kuyili (Gouri G Kishan), two constables who are at the forefront monitoring the lockdown scenario in the second lockdown. Though the two share genuine feelings for each other, they are not in a position to express the same as the young cops have more complex situations to deal with.
Meanwhile, they also come across a helpless couple whose love life has been disturbed by the pandemic. The challenge for the cops is to unite them. Will they be able to do it and profess their love for each other?
What stands out in this short is the chemistry between Teejay and Gouri. The former excels in both romantic and serious sequences. The change in his body language when he becomes romantic and when he acts as a stringent cop with two arrogant people when they flout lockdown rules is evident and keeps you hooked. As a caring cop, Gouri, too, impresses with her expressions. Though the scene involving them helping a couple to elope is predictable, it makes sense towards the end, as the whole short is all about radiating hope and spreading love.
Loners, which has Halitha Shameem at the helm, is aptly titled because of the situation the lead characters in it go through. Nallathangal aka Nalli (Lijomol Jose) and Dheeran (Arjun Das) meet accidentally on a group video call while livestreaming a wedding. The former, an extrovert, is reeling from a break up, while the latter is an introvert, who seems to be suffering from some problem.
Nalli finds it interesting when she meets him again in another group video call which is actually a platform for people to express their fear and insecurities they have been facing during the lockdown.
As two contrasting characters pursuing different professions, both Lijomol and Arjun are flawless in the portrayal of their respective roles. The director succeeds in maintaining the contrasting tone in their roles till the end. The manner in which their bonding is depicted is organic and is a treat to watch.
Loners stresses on the need to be loved and cared, and hence, anyone who has felt the same during the pandemic could easily relate to the plot. The scene in which Arjun breaks down while narrating about his friend's demise moves us because of the impressive dialogues and staging. The cinematography, too, stands out in this segment.
Madhumita's Mouname Paarvayaai surprises us from the first scene because of the unpredictable pairing of Nadia Moidu and Joju George. They play a couple, who suffers from midlife crisis, and a squabble makes it even more worse for them. The only thing standing between Yashoda (Nadia) and Muralikrishna (Joju), who are not on talking terms, is their daughter who is settled in the US.
As if this isn't enough, the second wave of COVID-19 hits them badly. Though Murali has reasons to continue to be angry with Yashoda, he almost falls apart when he sees his wife struggling with the virus.
To entertain viewers with a plot like this for half an hour without any conversation between the leads is no mean feat. The two of them do not speak to each other till the end though the director ensures that the varied emotions between them are conveyed quite captivatingly.
The cinematography by Preetha Jayaraman acts as a perfect catalyst to Madhumita's narration. The interior shots of their house are beautifully captured which helps in bringing a realistic mood to the short. The subtle, but effective expressions from Nadia and Joju are quite arresting, to say the least. Mouname Paarvayaai stands tall among the anthology because of these elements.
A peek from one of my fav scenes in my film #MugakavasaMutham in #PPKVOnPrime anthology😁— Balaji Mohan (@directormbalaji) January 12, 2022
Counting days on fingertips, quite literally ✌2 days to go
Watch on @PrimeVideoIN from Jan 14!@RSeanRoldan @Gourayy @Iamteejaymelody @jose_lijomol @iam_arjundas @SimplyNadiya @gvprakash pic.twitter.com/qVFckjUu1E
Debutant Surya Krishna's The Mask, unlike the first three segments, do not have a female lead. It explores the friendship between schoolmates Arjun (Sananth) and Velu (Dhilip Subbarayan) who meet during the pandemic after several years. The short, which begins with a beautiful aerial shot of Chennai, gets straight to the point.
Arjun is a gay who still hasn't come out to his parents. Upon pressure from his partner, he decides to rent a home to move out and stay with him. Little did he expect that a call from Velu, his old schoolmate, would change his life. The latter is now an influential person and leads a luxurious life, but he isn't happy in his life.
The Mask delves into the need to have a genuine friend who cares for you during troubled times and explores the concept of hope among people. While Sananth's character is a cakewalk for him, it is the unusual casting of Dhilip which brings a freshness to the short. Though Sananth's character manages to come out to his parents later, his relationship with his partner is only partly convincing because of the lackadaisical writing.
The mental struggles of Shobi (Aishwarya Lekshmi) and her existential crisis form the crux behind Richard Anthony's Nizhal Tharum Idham. It also takes a look at the fast-paced life which leads to people failing to give attention to their dear ones. Shobi, who works in an advertising firm, regrets over the fact that she is a little late to respond to her father's call.
He is no more now - as someone who lost her mother at a young age - this is more than what she could handle. Shobi finds solace in alcohol and a few friends, though she gradually realizes that loneliness has started to creep in and that there isn't anything she could actually do.
Aishwarya's performance as the depressed young woman is the sole saving grace of this short. The lack of detailing in other characters affect the entire segment and it is visible till the end. Some of the night shots are interestingly shot, but the way the protagonist's insecurities are portrayed needed more conviction.
In the first instalment of the anthology, the viewers could relate more to its characters because of the fact that lockdown was a new phenomenon for them to deal with. However, with the surge in cases and third wave witnessing a peak, people have now learnt to live with the virus, and hence, stories pertaining to issues revolving around pandemic do not make them concerned anymore.
It needs hard-hitting stories, unusual characters and completely captivating sequences to keep the audience hooked to anthologies. Nevertheless, another attempt to keep people motivated and bring a smile on their faces is a welcoming one.
Verdict: The anthology could have been more engaging, had there been out-of-the box stories and intriguing executions.
Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.