Written & Directed by Halitha Shameem
Rating: *** ½
Sillu Karuppatti: Anthologies generally don’t work because different directors are brought in for different segments. In Sillu Karuppatti the gifted Halitha Shameem is the helmer of all the stories, and she does an admirable job of keeping the faith alive all through the quartet.
Every story speaks about fighting adversity with positivity.And the message is neither over-sweetened nor rubbed in with excessive melodrama and bravado. The tone is constantly moderate , if not pitch-perfect and I found myself responding to the stories with much warmth and affection.
To kick off there is most unconvincing story of the foursome The Pink Bag where slum children are glorified to the point of endorsing poverty porn.When scavenger Maanja(Rahul) finds a diamond ring in the waste –bin he sets out to somehow return the precious jewel to the well-to-do girl. So far so good. But once the deed is done(why it takes so long is the 30-minute question) director Shameem wants us to believe there a future for the slumdog and slimqueen. Now,that’s stretching it really too far. But then, let’s not forget, the mood is one of hope and optimism.
The slum kids act unselfconsciously bringing the drama to a Boyle(of the Danny kind).In spite of its naivete this story is charming.
Besides, who can hold any grudges against an anthology that finds humour in scrotum cancer? In the second story Kakka Kadi , our hero Mugilan(Manikandan) is happy being famous as meme-creator on YouTube until he is diagnosed with a cancer he can’t even talk about.That’s when he mets Madhu(Niveditha Sathish) who not only shows Mugilan how to say the ‘s’ and the ‘c’ words without embarrassment but also how to overcome his fear of death.
Though again tilting towards an arcadian humanism Kakka Kadi is ultimately a winner because of the sharp dialogues and its proclivity to smile in the face of death.The jokes on having the ‘balls’ to conquer death are specially funny, considering.
In the third story Turtles a widower and a spinster(hate that word!) Navaneethan (Kravmaga Sreeram) and Yashoda (Leela Samson) come together in a world that thinks anyone above 60 is opium for obituaries. Can these two feisty senior citizens actually dream of a life together? Yes! The story tells us emphatically. The two characters are very sharply drawn and their difference in attitude to love and intimacy are discussed mutually during a lazy turtle walk ,with a certain amount of unforeseen forthrightness.But the story is too event-packed for 30 minutes.
Turtles was my favourite story of the four, followed by Hi Ammu where a neglected wife(yawn) teaches her indifferent but not unkind husband how to be more attentive.
Hi Ammu has the best acting of the anthology, by Samuthirakani as the husband genuinely clueless as to what his wife(Sunainaa) is so bitter about. The story , though gender-biased(the wife says her husband is indifferent to whatever she says, but does she listen?) has a blithe and bouncy feel to it that takes it a long way .
Sillu Karuppatti is not without its fatal flaws. All the stories are upbeat to the point of being unrealistic. But then what is wrong with finding some hope in these times of despair?