Paava Kadhaigal: Disturbs You But Not In The Right Way

Caste based killing is a subject that is relevant even to this day and when told in an engaging manner it gives you good results like Nagraj Manjule’s Marathi film Sairat or even Article 15, but Paava Kadhaigal (Sinful Stories) will make you lose faith in human beings particularly parents, this in spite of having formidable directors like Gautam Menon, Sudha Kongara and Vetrimaaran.  The commonality between this and Putham Pudu Kaalai apart from being an anthology are the directors Gautam Menon and Sudha Kongara. While Putham Pudu Kaalai left you with a happy feeling this anthology leaves you thoroughly depressed and also makes you wonder what was going in the minds of the directors when they decided to make this one.

The first story is about a transgender Sathaar (played by Kalidas Jayaram). Sathaar dreams of marrying his childhood friend Saravanan. But Saravanan is in love with Sathaar’s sister Sahira. Although the incidents of Sathaar being teased by village bullies are realistic, the episode feels like more of a documentary and it is also poorly structured. Kalidas Jayaram tries his level best to elevate the proceedings but it is a lost cause. This is very sad since Sudha Kongara had proved her worth as a director in Soorarai Pottru where she took on a familiar underdog story and made it work.

Vignesh Shivan’s Love Panna Uttranum is a story of two sisters both played by Anjali. We are told that one of the sisters is a lesbian who is in love with Penelope played by Kalki Kochelin. The other sister is looking for her father’s approval to marry someone outside their caste. The biggest issue here is the treatment of LGBT. This is particularly reflected in the scene where a character misreads lesbian as ESPN. It is meant to play out as a comic scene but it doesn’t bring much laughs. The LGBT thing looks more like an add on and needed more meat. The only thing which remotely works here is the character of the father who positions himself as an anti-caste leader but in reality he is not.  Anjali in a dual role is mostly there to cry while Kalki looks completely out of place as the foreigner.

Gautam Menon’s Vaanmagal sounds poetic but it is anything but that. This segment deals with sexual assault of a minor girl and how it leaves a scar on the family. The father character is played by Gautam Menon himself and the mother character is played by Simran who returns to screen after a long time. Much like the segment in Putham Pudu Kaalai Gautam Menon goes out of his comfort zone once again but this time the result is far from pleasing. The most disturbing thing about this one is the scene where we see Simran pushing her daughter from a mountain top.  Though it turns out to be not real but the thought itself is very regressive.

Vetrimaaran’s Oor Iravu stars Sai Pallavi and Prakash Raj as daughter and father. The story is in two timelines one in the present where Sai Pallavi’s character returns to the village for a supposed baby shower. The other timeline is the past where Prakash Raj’s character goes to his daughter’s house to make amends. There is no denying that the climax is gut wrenching and does jolt you but it doesn’t affect you the way that Sairat climax does. The biggest reason being too much negativity never works and since you have already had so much of negativity in the other three stories you feel like screaming at the director. Also it is tough to buy into what Prakash Raj’s character does particularly given his caring attitude in one of the timelines.

In totality Paava Kadhaigal might have started with the good intention of showing the evils of caste, LGBT prejudices and honour killings but it went totally overboard. Given the times that we live in with so much stress this film is completely avoidable.

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