How dearly I have missed the directorial work of Nalan Kumarasamy. Is there another filmmaker who’s so at ease generating laugh-out-loud humour from complex, sensitive situations, and who is able to achieve this without ever trivialising the central issues of the film? The man is a rare talent. In his segment in Kutty Story titled Aadal, Paadal, the song and dance is not of the literal variety. It’s metaphorical and occurs between a husband and wife (played wonderfully by Vijay Sethupathi and Aditi Balan), whose years of togetherness have dented the ‘fun’ in their relationship. This is the word Sethupathi’s character uses to explain away his transgression. Despite the emotional weight of this subject, Nalan proceeds to draw all types of humour from the film. There are jokes of the dialogue variety, like when Aditi’s character responds to her husband saying, “Un kaiya kaalaa nenachikaren”, with “Adhaan kaal irukke.” There’s humour in the body language, especially of Vijay Sethupathi’s: watch him adjust his shirt as though he were a posterboy for model husband behaviour and then quietly, mischievously ask a woman what she’s wearing. The best of all is the situational humour that arises from his wife playing mind games on him. Even the choice of a name ‘Kamakshi Sundaram’ results in a joke. The success of this film is how while it’s making you laugh, it makes all these quiet, sharp points about the double standards in relationships, about how a husband and wife react differently to the same problem, about how women are viewed as property. To put it simply, our cinema could do with more Nalan.
Directors: Gautham Menon, Vijay, Venkat Prabhu, Nalan Kumarasamy
Cast: Gautham Menon, Amala Paul, Vinoth Kishan, Amitash Pradhan, Megha Akash, Varun, Vijay Sethupathi, Aditi Balan
Much like Nalan’s film, the others too can be said to deal with the troubles that romantic love runs into. Gautham Menon’s film, Edhirpaara Muththam, is a film I enjoyed too, and is one that talks about the thin line that sometimes differentiates a platonic and a romantic relationship. The word ‘platonic’, in fact, is referenced several times in his film, once by the friend of Aadhi (Gautham Menon), Prabhakar (Robo Shankar), who quips, “Blood theriyum, tonic theriyum, adhenna platonic?” I enjoyed his presence in this film, even if his humour doesn’t always land. Importantly, the presence of such a comedian seems to help localise the scenes in a way that benefits the contrasting sensibilities of a filmmaker like Gautham Menon. It reminded me of how useful a comedian like Vivek was in Minnale, performing a similar ‘grounding’ role.
For the remainder of this review (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), visit Kutty Story movie review: The good and the bad co-exist in this latest anthology- Cinema express