20th October 2020

Putham Pudhu Kaalai Leaves Much To Be Desired

Putham Pudhu Kaalai(Amazon Prime)

Directed  by  Sudha Kongara,Gautham Vasudev Menon,Suhasini Mani Ratnam,RajivMenon,Karthik Subbaraj

Rating: ** ½ 

We all know this is the time when we need  to be  kind.And if  you don’t know why then you probably  live under a rock. Or in  Goa. None  of  the characters  in the five stories of this  well-intended but bland  omnibus  lets  us forget that they are  living during a time of crisis  and trying to make  the  best  of  it.  

The omnibus’  opulent and omniscient   optimism  of  the   presentation  made me feel  the best thing to have happened to fractured relationships is the Coronavirus.The  first story Ilamai IdhoIdho directed  by Sudha Kongra plays it for  cuteneness to the  hilt,and  places two older  people  together  to  enjoy time  away from the  judgmental  eyes  of  their  children. Very  selfconscious  in  its sunshiny  intentions, the narrative does instant-time switches. Sometimes we  see the  couple (played by  Jayaram and  Urvashi) in their  60s. Sometimes in the  20s(played by  two star-kids Kalidas Jayaram and  Kalyani Priyadarshan).  

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More than the  schmaltzy over-sweetened plot  it was a  delight to discover   the spontaneous charms  of Jayaram’s son. He  is  a natural. Which is  more than we can say  about the stories that seem to be burdened  with the  job of spreading  goodwill.

Over-sweetened is the only way to describe the next two  segments  Avarum Naanum – AvalumNaanum and Coffee, Anyone?  In  the former, an estranged grand daughter gets  a chance to know how ‘cool’ her  granddad is ,when she reluctantly  comes to  stay with him. Brimming with  the aroma of  shastriya sangeet  and traditional values this segment , directed by  Gautham Menon is   a special  disappointment as one  expects so  much more from Menon.Not  a soppy over-sentimental ode  to the creaking joints of  the joint family

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In  Coffee , Anyone?  Directed by Charu Haasan , Kamal Haasan’s  clan(his niece, nephew,daughter  are all there ) descends to  squeeze tears  out of  the viewer with their  sugary tale  of  a comatose mother ,her  obdurate  husband (who won’t  put his wife into the  hospital) and  their three daughters who  stumble  through differing stages  of hysteria in  trying to  good guilt-ridden  daughters . When  Shruti Haasan starts singing a traditional Tamil song  on  the internet I  decided it was  time to flee the scene and let this  family  stew in  its  own juices.Or  percolate in  its own coffee beans.

The  fourth  story  Reunion directed  by Rajiv Menon was  the  absurdest   of  the  lot. A  goodhearted  young doctor and his  angelic arthritic mother take in  a  stranded girl as a house guest when the  lockdown  suddenly happens. The girl, brimming with  nervous energy,  repays their kindness by snorting cocaine in their  bathroom. When she  locks herself in, the doc bursts into an old Tamil song which calms her nerves. What about  the viewers’  abused nerves? Just when I thought it was time for the abused  hospitality to end, the hosts  decide to  do a  crash-rehabilitation  programme on  the girl. If they needed  lockdown entertainment they could have just  subscribed  to Amazon!

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AllI can say about the  flow of  unstopped  benevolence is,my Goodness!

The  final story Miracle directed by   Karthik Subbaraj has more bite than the  darkish yelps   of the  four other  stories. Two petty criminals, one  suicidal  filmmaker and a miracle(pronounced  ‘meer-yaquel’)  man on television come together in an unexpected clasp of  irony . This, I thought,  was  the story that I wanted  to see more of. Not the  other over-sweetened melodramas  oozing with the condensed milk of  human kindness.Leaves you queasy.

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