Sillu Karupatti movie review: A delightful bag of surprises

S Subhakeerthana
Sillu Karupatti

Sillu Karupatti movie review: Halitha Shameem fills Sillu Karupatti with nuance and sensitivity picked from lived experiences.

Sillu Karupatti movie cast: Sunainaa, Samuthirakani, K Manikandan, Leela Samson, ‘Krav Maga’ Sreeram, Nivedhithaa Sathish, Sara Arjun
Sillu Karupatti movie director: Halitha Shameem
Sillu Karupatti movie rating: 3.5 stars

With Sillu Karupatti, an anthology of four stories about flawed people, filmmaker Halitha Shameem delves into their lives. ‘Unlikely romance’ is the thread that connects these stories. What I liked, overall, is Halitha's writing and the kind of perspective and refreshing sensibility that has gone into the making—considering the level of subjects this anthology deals with. After the impressive Poovarasam Peepee, Halitha, once again, attempts to tell a striking story.

The first story Pink Bag reminded me of Kaaka Muttai in several places. We get a glimpse into the lives of rag-picking children, who seem the happiest with little they have. The atmosphere is lively and filled with warmth and a sense of camaraderie. These portions remind us of things that we largely take for granted. A female character pleads with Manja (Rahul) to get her a shampoo bottle so that she could use, at least, the leftovers. Besides, we see a sweet romance between Manja, who lives in the slum, and a rich Sara Arjun. They don't hang out together, but certainly, there's innocent love—so much of it.

The second story Kaaka Kadi traces the friendship of Madhu (Nivedhithaa Sathish) and Mugilan (Manikandan of Kaala fame) that eventually blossoms into love. Mugilan works for a company and creates memes, too. Madhu is a fashion designer. They both share a cab, quite often. Soon, Mugilan is diagnosed with scrotum cancer and Madhu gives him love and hope. It is a tricky space—to fall in love with someone—a cancer survivor. What does romance look like, in this case? Halitha Shameem vividly captures them on screen. All of it - subtle and sublime. Something which was conceived as a serious narrative ends up being unintentionally funny!

The third story Turtles, which is my favourite, stars the likeable Leela Samson as Yashoda, a sea turtle conservationist, and ‘Krav Maga’ Sreeram as Navaneethan. While Yashoda plays at the children’s park, Navaneethan silently admires her from a distance. It is always wonderful to see old-age romance. They meet at a hospital and share a table for a quick meal. There's something about Yashoda that Navaneethan likes. Every spoken line is broken down into pauses, thoughts and silences. Every written line is casual, yet loaded with meaning. How beautifully vulnerable it is to witness two lonely people making a connection and discuss longing, love and life?

The fourth story Hey Ammu deals with a married couple Dhanapal (Samuthirakani) and Amudhini (Sunainaa). Like any other couple, they lead “iruttu-la anbu; velichchathil-a veruppu” life. There's 'distance' between them, even though they have sex every day. Dhanapal can't sleep without sex, but the issue is, Amudhini wants a "meaningful one". I am sure this part of the anthology is relatable, in general, because it is built-in a world we recognise and live in—staying in dysfunctional relationships, yet expect love from our partner. It is not that Dhanapal doesn't like Amudhini for what she is, just that he forgets to love her as he is caught in his mundane world of problems and routine. But soon, he turns a new leaf and makes love to Amudhini. Here's the interesting thing—how did this happen? Amudhini vents out her feelings to a Bluetooth-operated speaker, and Dhanapal listens to it when she is away. What a relief to see Samuthirakani in such a role! I mean, literally. For a change, we don't see him "teach", "preach" or indulge in his usual quirks. With his affable presence, he does score high.

Halitha Shameem fills Sillu Karupatti with nuance and sensitivity picked from lived experiences, barring a couple of things here and there—which I think can be forgiven. As I walked out of the theater, I felt as though I had ‘seen’ and ‘lived’ the anthology. To be more specific, it was really like I was watching the characters from right behind. This Halitha Shameem-directorial is introspective and moving. Also bittersweet like Sillu Karupatti (palm candy). All of it at the same time.

The credit equally goes to the unobtrusive camera work by Manoj Paramahamsa, Abinandhan Ramanujam, Vijay Karthik Kannan and Yamini Yagnamurthy. The visuals floor you. There are offbeat angles, and the colours are so much in sync. Truth be told, I didn't want to be mean with Sillu Karupatti and highlight its problems. There are minor grouses, but let's chuck them. That's all right. It applies to even flawed films like flawed people. You don't want to see the issues because you are simply content 'loving' them.