new Delhi: If OTT has directly benefited in terms of viewership due to the lockdown, the result of the situation has served digital content well as well. A group of films and web series based on plot ideas from the lockdown have filled OTT platforms. You have a new example in Tamil anthology, Putham Pudhu Kalai (translation of A New Dawn).
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Five well-known filmmakers from South have collaborated to direct each film of this episode. These films have no connection with each other except that all five are set against the backdrop of lockdown. Overall, the idea was clearly to make a good commercial film that reaches the largest possible audience, leveraging OTT’s global reach, so none of the five stories will address any aspect of human relationships Does not probe deeply.
The first of the five stories, Sudha Kongara’s Ilamai Idho Idho (Youth, Here We Come), sets a lighter mood. The writings of Francis Thomas and Shruti Ramachandran are equally well-known as the widower Rajiv (Jayaram), who invites girlfriend Lakshmi (Urvashi) to live with him for a few days. The twist in the story comes when Lockden is suddenly announced, as Lakshmi is still at Rajiv’s place, and her daughter and son-in-law arrive. There is not a very heavy narrative score, mainly due to the simplistic story of Kongara. The director uses a small set of actors (Kalidas Jayaram and Kalyani Priyadarshan) to make Rajiv and Lakshmi feel young and romantic in each other’s company each time. The catchy little rom-com is enriched by good acting and interesting use of music (GV Prakash).
Gautham Vasudev Menon directs Aviram Namum (Him & Me), a story about a young girl (Ritu Verma) who comes to live with her grandfather (MS Bhaskar) amidst the lockdown. The two have been isolated for years, and the story (Reshma Ghatla) goes on to explain how the girl discovers her ‘thata’, and the misunderstanding is dispelled. Strictly, this is not a story that sought the backdrop of the lockdown, but the film is well shot (PC Sriram) and the two protagonists share some notable moments.
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Anthology films contain a dead organism. The placement of your film often becomes a sign of how attractive it is compared to others in the collection. For example, in a film with five stories, it does not take long to realize that a blast placed in the middle may be the weakest link.
Suhasini Mani Ratnam’s coffee, anyone? The loss seems to suffer, though the film is written by Suhasini together with her husband, Master Mani Ratnam. You find the odd Mani Ratnam trademark moment as two sisters (Anu Hasan and Suhasini) who go to visit their mother, who is in a coma. To the disapproval of both women, her father (Kathadi Ramamurthy) has brought her mother home, when hospital care would probably be practical. The film tries to make a point about love and the power to heal family bonds, but ends on an unheard note. Also, you don’t know any reason why this story should be set at the time of lockdown.
The fourth story, directed by Andrea Jeremiah, Rajiv Menon, brings to life Reunion, who also co-writes with Adhia KR and Krishnaswamy Ramkumar and works as a cinematographer. Vikram, a rich surgeon (Gurucharan), lives with his mother (Lila Samson) and their life is thrown into an uproar when Sadhana (Andrea), once becomes a singer and an old friend of Vikram. The young doctor returns from the hospital to find that he has come in contact with a Kovid patient, so he isolates himself at home. With the lockdown announced, Vikram’s mother suggests Sadhna stay with him, and the girl agrees. Of course, there is a twist about Sadhana that advances the plot. Menon uses music (Nivas K. Prasanna) to finely define Sadhana’s previous bond with Vikram, as well as taking the story forward. Looking at the reunion, it seems that the story will need a long run to survive. Menon does enough to narrate his story in a short format, though he fails to add an impressive punch at the end.
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Anthology films are often the best for the last, and it certainly happens here. Writer-director Karthik Subbaraj’s Miracle is a winner in every way, a brilliant farewell shot. Some of the younger goons (Bobby Simha and K. Muthu Kumar) are in dire need of money. Amidst the lockdust chaos they figure out a devious way to get their hands on a big skirmish. Of course, there is a catch in what happens next. Miracle is a story that you do not want to reveal much except that it is smart, funny and ironic. Shreyas Krishna’s camera makes an interesting use of bright colors and darkness to enliven the various stages of the story, and the film is cleverly cut by Vivek Harshan.
No matter how you react to the rest of the stories, Miracle guarantees that you are in a merry mood.
Puttam Pudhu Kailai manages to entertain within the limits and challenges of the short film format. Although not an excellent effort, the film overall is an entertaining one, and definitely worth a watch.
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