It’s fascinating to see established directors show us characters we wouldn’t usually see in feature films, and for these characters to be doing what they wouldn’t usually be allowed to. You can see this across all the five short films that are part of Amazon Prime Video’s anthology, Putham Pudhu Kaalai. In Sudha Kongara’s warm and sensitive Ilamai Idho Idho, two old people, despite the baggage of their families and the cold gaze of society, are allowed to breathe again in love. In Gautham Menon’s Avarum Naanum, Avalum Naanum, an old man is allowed to speak at length about his failed dreams for his daughter. In the film, his granddaughter (played by Ritu Varma), the type of woman whose purpose in feature films would be romantic in nature, is allowed to forge an important familial relationship. In Suhasini’s Coffee Anyone?, multiple women get together to try and rescue one of their own. In Rajiv Menon’s Reunion, an old woman reacts not with disgust towards an addict, as you would expect, but with empathy. It’s also fascinating to note that old people are integral parts of this new anthology. It’s a welcome development, is it not, that liberated from the rules surrounding feature films and star-centric cinema, these filmmakers are able to talk about an important section of society that’s damagingly stereotyped, even in the off-chance that they get depicted at all?
Direction: Sudha Kongara, Gautham Menon, Suhasini Mani Ratnam, Rajiv Menon, Karthik Subbaraj
Cast: Jayaram, Urvashi, Kalidas, Kalyani, MS Bhaskar, Ritu Varma, Suhasini, Anu Haasan, Shruti Haasan, Gurucharan, Andrea Jeremiah, Bobby Simha
Despite the limitations of the format, it’s also interesting to note how the filmmakers have expressed themselves through the use of songs and the musical extravagance you would typically associate with feature films. Think of Jayaram dancing about in love (in Ilamai Idho Idho). Think of how catharsis comes through a song recording (in GVM’s ANAN). Or how about an important moment in Rajiv Menon’s Reunion getting resolved through the cheeky use of a song from one of his own films? Karthik Subbaraj, in a style that he has made his own here, uses the Ilaiyaraaja song, ‘Oru kili urugudhu’, to hilarious effect in his short, Miracle.
For the remainder of this column (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), visit https://www.cinemaexpress.com/reviews/tamil/2020/oct/16/putham-pudhu-kaalai-review-sudha-kongara-stars-in-an-anthology-that-evokes-mixed-feelings-20829.html