“ Dangerous people don’t break into your house, they live in it.” All these films are centered around a single theme in which honor is greater than everything, be it humanity, free will, or sacrificing their own seeds. Every actor in each of the films gives an amazing performance and the directors create near-to-perfect, cruel, disconcerting images of patriarchy.
There is a Burmese Proverb that says “ In the time of the test, the family is the best.” But what if the family becomes the reason for the test? Paava Kadhaigal is a Netflix anthology of four Tamil short films in which families are the villains of the stories. As Dr. House in the show, House M.D said “ Dangerous people don’t break into your house, they live in it.” All these films are centered around a single theme in which honor is greater than everything, be it humanity, free will, or sacrificing their own seeds. Every actor in each of the films gives an amazing performance and the directors create near-to-perfect, cruel, disconcerting images of patriarchy. Produced by Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP and Ashi Dua Sara’s Flying Unicorn Entertainment, Paava Kadhaigal isn’t scared to portray violence in unimaginable forms.
The first among the lot is Thangam(My Precious), in which a transgender man dreams of leaving his village where no one understands him except his one childhood friend and treats him like an untouchable. Someday, he hopes that he will be able to afford the gender reassignment surgery and leave for Bombay with his friend. But, fate has other plans for him. The narrative suddenly tilts in another direction but in the end, it gives an unnerving shock that completely startles you. Thangam also shows different sides of masculinity where Saathar, Saravanan, and other men of the village portray these different forms.
The next one is Love Paana Uttranum where honor is even greater than human(s). In this, a politician Veerasimman (Padam Kumar) behaves in front of the village that he believes in equality and isn’t against inter-caste marriages but the reality is different. His own daughter believes that he is a changed man and so she decides to tell him about her lover. On believing his sister, Jothi with her friends Penelope and B-Cube drives back to her home and is excited to join the wedding but things aren’t exactly in the way she thought. This is perhaps the only film among the lot that is funny and is covered in dark humor so richly that it probably becomes the best-dark humor short film of the year.
Vaanmagal is perhaps the only among the lot in which a woman leads the game. It is about a mother who still believes in cleaning everything her daughter touches while she is on periods. But, an unfortunate incident happens where a family’s honor and a man’s helplessness fight among themselves. One of the best moments in this film is when the father says that he feels naked while being around her daughter because he isn’t able to protect her when she needed him.
The last one by Vetrimaaran called the Oor Iravu is the most horrifying among the lot. A girl who estranged her family for two years ago, returns back when she gets pregnant as her father Jankiraman(Prakash Raj) has changed and wants to throw a baby shower. She left her home because she wanted to marry a guy of a different caste but now her father has changed and is ready to bury the deeds of the past. I don’t why but a major spoiler about this film is given in the third film. Netflix should have altered the sequence for sure.
Paava Kadhaigal is packed with amazing performances be it Saathar from Thangam played by Kalidas Jayaram or Anjali as Aadhilakshmi/Jothilakshmi in Love Paana Uttranum. Simran playing the role of Maithi in Vaanmagal is the best among the lot. Prakash Raj and Sai Pallavi in Oor Iravu are tremendously brilliant while carrying out their roles. Overall, Paava Kadhaigal has strong narratives and even stronger performers to act in them and is probably one of the best anthologies of the year.
Cast: Prakash Raj, Kalki Koechlin, Kalidas Jayaram, Shanthnu Bhagyaraj, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Sai Pallavi, Anjali, Simran, Adithya Bhaskar.
Director: Sudha Kongara, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Vignesh Shivan, Vetrimaaran.
Verdict: A Must-Watch.