The anthology kicks off with Sudha Kongara’s 3rd release in the lockdown and like her previous outings (the short in Putham Pudhu Kaalai and the Suriya Starrer Soorarai Pottru) she comes off with flying colours. The theme of the anthology is ‘Honour’ and the sins committed in society over it. Sudha’s story has a love triangle as well but a triangle with a gender blender. The honour in the story leads to the killing of a different kind. Kalidas Jayaram plays a woman trapped in a man’s body brilliantly, never taking it into caricature zone. His ode to his love is in a zone beyond societal and gender norms.
Vignesh Sivan’s short (Love Panna Uttranum) takes a surprisingly humorous view on the subject. Surprising because it is difficult to imagine a dark humour angle of narrating an honour killing tale. Kalki Koechlin is the outsider thrown into the world where honour, caste and creed take precedence over love and affection. Perhaps the dark humour is possible because of the outsider’s gaze as these beliefs that lead to horrendous crimes in many parts of the country are actually worth scoffing at for their silliness. Anjali playing the role of twins who both pose a threat to their father’s maanam does a neat job.
Gautham Menon’s Vaanmagal has him playing a father character that he writes in his movies, yet with the freedom of the OTT platform this father can express his helplessness in ways and lines we do not see in movies. It has some brilliant emotional moments like Simran breaking down in the process of ‘cleaning’ her daughter. Yet despite its strong emotional core, this short uses the crutches of heavy background music, almost shouting at the audience to tell them what to feel.
Vetrimaaran’s Ooru Iravu is the gutsy of the lot. It takes a sucker punch to your guts and then lets the blood flow in all its gore. And then he lets the moment linger. While the other directors evaluate the concept of ‘honour’ from different angles, Vetri takes the most gruesome and hard hitting look at it. While the ‘violent acts’ in the other shorts are offscreen, in Vetri’s short the act happens on screen and is devoted the most screen time. The director’s control over his craft so magnificent that he forces the audience to take in all the violence, pain, and emotion in its stark nakedness without the manipulation of a background music.
Paava Kadhaigal is the best anthology to have come out this year and it goes to show what the best directors in Tamil Cinema are capable of when unhinged from expectations of footfalls on a Friday.