Putham Pudhu Kaalai Review: A light-hearted anthology on pandemic fairly works in parts than whole

Anthology: Putham Pudhu Kaalai

Cast: Jayaram, Kalidas Jayaram, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Krishnakumar B, Suhasini, Anu Hasan and Shruti Haasan, Ananya Ramaprasad, Suhasini, Anuradha Hasan, Andrea Jeremiah, Ritu Verma, MS Bhaskar, Bobby Simha and K. Muthu Kumar

Directors: Sudha Kongara, Karthik Subbaraj, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Rajiv Menon, Suhasini Mani Ratnam

OTT: Amazon Prime Video

Rating: 3 Moons

If 2020 had to be described in just one word, it would be pandemic. Since the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, announced a nationwide lockdown in the month of March, citizens are confined to their homes and waiting for the dawn of a secure, safe and pandemic-free tomorrow. Placing the COVID-19 pandemic at the center, the biggest filmmakers of Tamil cinema Sudha Kongara, Karthik Subbaraj, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Rajiv Menon and Suhasini Mani Ratnam weaved an anthology titled Putham Pudhu Kaalai. Five different stories by five celebrated personalities are being told to the audience on Amazon Prime Video from today.

The short films, of 25 minutes each, focuses majorly on well-heeled individuals and families tackling long-standing mental blocks. Tales of miracles, second chances and happy endings is how Putham Pudhu Kaalai, that roughly translates to a shining and bright new dawn, can be aptly described.

While the titles of three short films directed by Sudha Kongara, Rajiv Menon and Karthik Subbaraj evoke the chances of fortunes being reversed, the other two by Gautham Vasudev Menon and Suhasini Mani Ratnam are majorly about the characters and their unique ways around but are about characters who work their way to tackle an obstacle to progress.

Ilamai Idho Idho (‘Youth, Here We Come’)

Director: Sudha Kongara

Cast: Jayaram, Kalidas Jayaram, Urvashi, and Kalyani Priyadarshan

Drawing reference from Mani Ratnam’s style of romance, Sudha Kongara’s Ilamai Idho Idho is all about scuttled love and lost youth. It brings to life a tale of a man who relives his youth in his mind. Reminding you of yesteryear days, the domestic conflicts shown are pretty much relatable. When the PM announces a lockdown, Jayaram and Urvashi who play lovers, get frisky in the absence of their family members. Kalidas Jayaram, who is the real-life son of Jayaram, represents the new generation of lovers. Kalyani Priyadarshan is his partner. Sudha handles the subject pretty well and has got her casting job done perfectly.

Avarum Naanum / Avalum Naanam (Him and Me/Her and Me)

Director: Gautham Menon

Cast: MS Bhaskar and Ritu Varma

As the title aptly suggests, the short film by Gautham Menon engages both the leads in two-way communication. Shown from the perspective of an aged grandfather and his young granddaughter. In a remarkably straightforward short film, MS Bhaskar plays the grandfather who shows no interest when his estranged granddaughter (Ritu Varma) visits him during the lockdown. A nuclear scientist with multiple awards, the old man has had a not-so-good relationship with his family.

Touching the emotional aspect, Gautham Menon explores the ways the young granddaughter tries to reach a common ground with him. Making generous use of fun elements like how senior citizens have adapted to technology and mention of work from home routine among IT employees, the film is though fun but slow for an OTT watch.

Coffee, Anyone?

Director: Suhasini Mani Ratnam

Cast: Suhasini Mani Ratnam, Anu Hasan, Shruti Haasan, Kathadi Ramamurthy and Komalan Charuhasan

Suhasini Mani Ratnam not only directs the short film but also acts in it with cousins Anu and Shruti Haasan and her mother Komalam Charuhasan. The film revolves around a family herded together by circumstances. Valli (Suhasini) and Saras (Anu) travel to Chennai to be with their comatose mother while Ramya (Shruti) refuses to make the family reunion complete. However, the comatose woman has other plans. A short film that will bring in tears and good performances. However, Coffee, Anyone? has too many things filled in it and leads to our focus shifting from one to another. A tight narrative with a crisper approach would have done wonders.

Director: Rajiv Menon

Cast: Andrea Jeremiah, Leela Samson, and Sikkil Gurucharan

Set in a swanky designer abode of a third-generation doctor living with his widowed mother, Rajiv Menon's Reunion focuses on how a young man’s life changes when his forgotten college friend turns up at his doorstep and ends up staying for an extended period. Over the course of time, we learn that she is a drug head and begins her journey to self-discovery. Staple and something we all have seen, Reunion score a point for Andrea Jeremiah’s, Leela Samson’s and Sikkil Gurucharan’s performances.  

Director: Karthik Subbaraj

Cast: Bobby Simha, Muthu Kumar and Sharath Ravi

Karthik Subbaraj’s superpower to fit in a variety of things beautifully makes this short a must-watch. Without making it look overstuffed, the filmmaker with Bobby Simha, Muthu Kumar and Sharath Ravi spring a surprise out of every corner. Miracle revolves around two goons (Bobby Simha and K. Muthu Kumar) who have no source of money and are deprived of food. One of them, who is working on a tip-off, hatches a plan that can help them crawl out of the trough. The two have nothing to lose but their godawful destiny. Though Miracle is a dark film, it manages to impress you with the twists, especially the final one.

Putham Pudhu Kaalai, though easy and breezy, hasn't managed to break past from what we have seen in the past. gives Putham Pudhu Kaalai 3 Moons