Four mainstream filmmakers unite to tackle a sinful side to humanity, in this dark anthology that works more than it doesn’t
There’s an inexplicable unease caused by the melancholic lullaby, Kanne Kanmaniye, Sivatmikha’s song that precedes each of the four films in Netflix’s anthology, Paava Kadhaigal. It’s the discomfiting hint that the same parents who so cherish and adore their daughters, calling them Kanne and Kanmaniye, somehow develop the cognitive dissonance necessary to be able to unleash unspeakable monstrosities on them in the name of honour. The slashes of red in the animation video that charts the growth of a daughter, as she transforms from dependent toddler to a freethinking adult in love and later, marriage, is another ominous sign of what’s to come in the four films. I found Paava Kadhaigal’s foray into the horror of our kind—something as specific as honour killings—to be such a welcome departure from the anthologies themed on generic topics that have come our way so far. This idea serves to offer filmmakers like Gautham Menon and Vignesh Shivan a chance to enter new worlds—in whose darkness lie realistic forces like chastity and caste and social reputation—and the results range from reasonably engaging to gut-wrenching.
Directors: Sudha Kongara, Vignesh Shivan, Gautham Menon, Vetrimaaran
Cast: Shanthnu Bhagyaraj, Kalidas Jayaram, Anjali, Simran, Gautham Menon, Sai Pallavi, Prakash Raj
With each of the four shorts being as long as 30 minutes, I would be remiss not to approach these segments separately, but before I do that, let me just take stock of some common threads running across many of these stories, if not all. For one, they are all about conflicted parents frightened of social persecution, parents who are not above considering murder. All of these films speak of the pressure of a big, bad system and how it influences individuals to do that which they would otherwise shudder to even consider. A character in Sudha Kongara’s Thangam says: “Kola pannavana vida kola panna vittavan periya kolakaaran.” More than one film touches upon the nourishing role a parent plays, and how children tend to seek those qualities in their romantic partners (how ironic then that both parties should find it so difficult to get along). Be it Anjali’s character in Vignesh Shivan’s Love Panna Vitranum or Sai Pallavi’s character in Vetrimaaran’s Orr Iravu, the daughters almost implore their father to note how well they are taken care of. It’s agonising to observe these innocent women fail to even suspect that the hand that fed and bathed and raised them could potentially consider slaughter.
For the remainder of this review (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), visit Netflix’s Paava Kadhaigal Review: Vetrimaaran leaves you a teary mess in this fairly engaging anthol- Cinema express