Putham Puthu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa an anthology in Tamil that dropped on Amazon Prime is a sort of a sequel to Putham Puthu Kaalai that we saw in 2020 during the 1st wave. We are in January 2022 and the lockdown saga is still continuing. So arrival of the new dawn is posed as a question.
The common thread in this series of stories are of course pandemic and the induced lockdown. But there is also a recurring theme of relationships and how the pandemic has had an impact on relationships at different levels. The stories are short, serious and slow. So slow at times the engagement with the story gets lost.
In the first one – Mugakavasa Mutham directed by Balaji Mohan, a story of few police cops involved in traffic control during lockdown, tries to tell a sweet love story between cops blooming at the workplace. But it gets digressed into another love story and lands flat at the end.
The second one is Loners directed by Halitha Shameem whose earlier anthology – Sillu Karuppatti is still etched in my memory as a wonderfully made piece of work. This has got some very fine performances from the cast that include Lijomol Jose (Jai Bheem fame) and Vinod Das. The film captures a growing relationship that seems very empathetic between two individuals who are picking up from poignant phases in their respective lives. To me, the scenes playing out between the lead pair are nicely written but didn’t seem too organic and hence not relatable. And I thought in a lockdown wedding, we just get the link to view the function remotely and not necessarily participate like in a Zoom call which is what is shown here.
Next one is Mouname Paarvayaai – one which I was eagerly looking forward to catch because it had a fantastic cast in Nadiya and Joju George and also directed by Madhumita whose delectably sweet film K.D was a delight to watch. Among all the shorts, this one is most relatable. It is not too serious and has many light moments. The film plays out completely like a silent film with just the background score playing up the moments because the lead pair don’t talk to each other. I wonder why Nadiya and Joju are not shown talking to other characters like the daughter??? Also typically couples who fight and don’t talk for few days patch up after a few days. Or else they break up for the good. Here, it seems like a long fight where they don’t talk to each other but live together till the lockdown plays its part in bringing them closer.
The Mask, which is the fourth in this series is a complete let down. This is a generic story where the lockdown is incidental and the only connection seems to be the reference to mask in another context.
The last one – Nizhal Tharum Idham is about an independent woman for whom the death of her dad during the pandemic makes her re-visit her relationships and equations with people around. It’s almost like a soliloquy played by Aishwarya Lekshmi. The short fails to raise above the premise which in itself is weak.
Overall, the overarching theme in all the stories seem to be characters doing a bit of soul searching during the lockdown and moving towards a new beginning. This emotion has been overplayed a bit I feel because the reality may be far away from this. And this could be a reason why the stories did not land where they were intended to. A disappointing Tamil anthology once again.