Inconsistent, unconvincing and worse, haphazard, this Tamil anthology of 4 stories left me cold. It is designed as virgin-fresh takes on love. But seems to be bogged down by the contradictions that the projects in its quest for contemporary urban voices of expression. Oftentimes, the series seems to bend backwards to appear new-fangled in its ideas and ideology. But eventually barring one story all the others seem compromised by their own inability to stay true to themselves.
I found the first story ‘Edhirpaara Muththam’ the most annoying. Gautam Menon who directs and plays the lead, wants to address that age-old question: can a man and a woman be platonic friends? Sex is the last thing on our minds as we watch this bland and sexless take on platonic-versus-sexual friendship done much more convincingly in cinema as diverse as Mehboob Khan’s Andaz and Rob Reiner’s ‘When Harry Met Sally’. Menon’s younger avatar Aadhi played by Vinod Kishan ( a much better actor than Menon) is best friends with Mrinalini (Aamala Paul). They part and meet up many years later to examine their mutual feelings in a conversation that must interesting to the two people who are conversing if anyone at all. In-between Aadhi chuckles over ‘play-tonic’ feelings with his friends who seem to think women and men can only do one thing when they meet. And it’s not cooking.
The second story Avanum Naanum is better, less trying-to-be-cool in tone and treatment than the first, although even here the treatment of the man-woman equation leaves much to be desired. Preethi (Megha Akash) and Vikram (Amitash Pradhan) “do it” one stormy night a la Aradhana. He then dies suddenly leaving her with the horrific prospect of being an unwed mother. Some of the emotional moments such as one when Megha finds out about Vikram’s death are effective. But the whole hoo-ha about getting an abortion seems very outdated, very Aradhana.
The third story ‘Lokham’ is set against the backdrop of the gaming business. Varun meets Eve while they participate in a game that is a hit worldwide. Varun (played believe it or not, by an actor named Adam) then devotes himself to finding Eve. The story is mildly interesting, though finally it is done in an extremely pubescent tone. A more mature handling of the unusual story could have made it more than just a diversion.
Finally the best film of the omnibus ‘Aadal Paadal’ where the formidable Vijay Sethupathi gives a rousing performance as a sexist man blissfully cheating on his wife. The story has some sly innuendos on the myth of trust in a marriage. And it is the only story of the quartet that references the pandemic. But it is Vijay Sethupathi who holds it together with his compelling performance that mixes self-importance with gender insensitivity. If you are a fan of Sethupathi’s subtle performing abilities then this anthology may interest you. Otherwise, it is a largely insufferable mix of self-importance and mediocrity.
Image Source: Instagram/logeswaranmaniam , youtube/velsfilminternational
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