Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Review: Putham Pudhu Kaalai

On Amazon Prime Video

Five very melodramatic, very loud short films that could have worked even without the COVID theme.

Mini Review:

Why are we Indians so over the top in the drama department? Why do we need so much loud background score and music in every film we make? For a supposed 'films made during the pandemic', how and why were a camera crew inside the stories? Why are all these films so staged? Except for one film that touched me most - and that too did not have a direct connection to the pandemic - others seemed to be fake. Such a waste! 

Main Review:

I watched Social Distance which has 8 short films during the lockdown in America, and wrote about it on MoneyControl. Here is the link: 

Social Distance on Netflix 

When I was reviewing this, I realised that there were to be five Tamil short films on the Lockdown on Amazon Prime Video. Excited to watch our version, I watched the films as soon as they were released on saturday october 17.

It's already monday night (19th) and I'm struggling to understand why watching Social Distance was so much easier to watch and this was such a task. Social Distance had me feel for the characters, my cup of empathy overflowed. This made me feel too, but despair.

Pardon the comparison, but if they can use simple devices like cell phones and laptops to create eight wonderful films, why do we have an extensive editing of stories shot like they were shot like regular movies, with a camera crew et al? 

Why is it that Social Distance is able to use music gently and make films that offer emotions on a roller coaster, then we make films with choreographed dancing and singing and loud background music to tell stories?

The first story: 

An older man shoos off the household help because he has planned a naughty weekend with a lady friend. I have never wanted to slap anyone so hard as I did this very obviously grown up man literally going tee hee hee like a naughty child (i'm not even trying to say young man. 

So the premise is 'you make me feel young again' and the director turns the old man young again and the older woman into a young person. I mean how embarrassed are we to actually show an older man romancing an older woman? And why oh why do they have to dance to a song that says, 'Baby, baby!' And why are they drinking what looks like pomegranate juice gone cloudy?  

So lockdown is announced and they inadvertently get 21 days of privacy. But here we see them fighting about wet towels on the bed! Erm...

The film has one real moment when the woman admits: no one in my home has ever asked me if I wanted tea...

But the young couple needed a few tight slaps. How much overacting can you do in a short film?

The Second Story:

I loved this film, but it has nothing to do with being forced to stay indoors during the lockdown. A granddaughter comes to stay with grandpa. Why is she staying when she said they would come only to give him diwali sweets, no one knows. But she's on zoom calls (assuming people did not work on zoom calls before the lockdown!) and the grandpa interruots. From I hate grandpa to I love you and mom loves you too is a sweet jouney even though predictable. 

Trouble is, this story works even if it weren't shot during the pandemic. Sigh.

The Third Story:

Father and sister come to pick up Akka at the airport. The airport's bustling. And Akka has shown up because mother is in the ICU. Aha, I think! Finally a movie about COVID. But nopes. The mother has been in a coma. Dammit!

Then we realise amma has been home all this while. Dad is doing the dressing up of amma and taking care of her at home. If she's in a coma, does she not need help with the breathing? Is she dead already and appa is Norman Bates? That would have been a fun film, actually. But no. Alas, the old lady seems to be responding to her daughters and predictably when the youngest daughter - who is supposedly rebellious - calls, the old lady...

Ugh! this ending you can see from the International Space Station. It's that obvious. The only saving grace, is realising Suhasini Mani Ratnam wears the same powder blue kurta that I once had...

Is this film going to encourage more people to get their loved ones in coma back home from ICU care and think they're going to be cured by talking to them? Irresponsible... 

Don't worry, the sisters here are prone to a song and dance too. Thank god for the move ten seconds forward button on Prime Video.

The Fourth Story:

This is such a bizarre story about an old lady and her son (doc in quarantine) cold curing a girl's Cocaine addiction, who stops by for a lift just when lockdown is announced. 

It is not just the nightclub singer who dresses in 'nightclub goer type clothes' who overacts her addiction, but the old lady overdoes it too! The poor doc has to scream, 'Amma, that white powder is drugs-aa!'

She cured enough to say she's going to rehab. And the doc trusts her...This film does great disservice to those working tirelessly to help people get over their drug habit.

Who are these people who write such stories?

The Fifth Story:

By the time we get to this one you just want to fast forward the whole story. The film starts with someone watching a religious channel where the obviously fake guru is promising a miracle. The man looks like a gangster, smokes like a chimney and seems to be plagued by demons. Who is he, and why he's behaving like that, no clue. Then there are two gangsters (one of them watching the same channel) who are hungry, literally. They case a car supposed to be filled with money and there's a botched robbery attempt, and a dead guy revived and... 

The former dead guy is supposed to be a movie director and he takes to laughing like a maniac. I want to laugh exactly like that at executives at Amazon who have been duped into believing that this set of films is 'trendy because they've shot during the pandemic' and will bring in audiences! 

I realise that the films are so loud, I have turned the volume to minimum. I had to forward the song and dance routines (too many!), and that these five short films felt like never ending. 

What is sad that these are renowned directors (and actors) who will get away with this shoddy representation of our times. These films are so far from reality, you'd think everyone lives in perfectly art-directed bungalows and are shot bydirectors who don't know how to think of technology that is keeping the rest of of us sane during these awful times.



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