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A sequel with more effective pandemic perspectives-Entertainment News , Firstpost

Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa has great set of stories that captures the mosaic of emotions with greater detail

Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa roughly translates to ‘Won’t a new dawn arrive’. Ideally, it is a question. But here, and in reality, the phrase is rhetoric. The urgent dread of the pandemic has languished to relaxed but deep dread. You can sense this shift in the new instalment of Amazon’s Tamil pandemic anthology. The first anthology (Putham Pudhu Kaalai) received some criticism for romanticising the pandemic, and the lockdowns, a tad too much. Covid might have pushed us all to introspect and seek connections, but it was also about unforeseen loss and grief. The second set of stories achieves this balance with more finesse — it captures the mosaic of emotions with greater detail.

Mugakavasa Mutham

For the privileged of us, lockdowns meant staying at home and off the roads. But what about the people who are enforcing these rules? Tamil cinema is infamous for showing police personnel as superhumans. But in Balaji Mohan’s breezy Mugakavasa Mutham, they are normal people stuck in a thankless job. Murugan (TeeJay) and Kuyilu (Gouri Kishen) man a covid check post. Love blossoms amid tasteless food, dance awareness videos, masks, vaccines, and home-cooked meals. Balaji Mohan retains his comic book-ish treatment and the lighter moments work. But the film loses footing when it tries to become serious, albeit briefly. The dialogues felt tangibly incongruous, just like Gouri Kishen’s makeup.

Loners

For the ones stuck at home, what’s a lockdown without loneliness? Loners, starring Lijomol and Arjun Das, feels like a short highlight reel of the second wave. Halitha Shameem packs the short with references — online weddings, remote photoshoots, Twitter spaces, deaths of personalities like Vivekh and KV Anand. Chennai’s new alarm tone ‘Vaccine a podunga makka’ blares in the background. The short captures how the pandemic pushed us to collectively take refuge in the Internet — finding ways to be new people, and to meet new people. As the spunky Nalla and the sensitive Dheeran, Lijomol and Arjun Das give very rooted and affecting performances. Even with a few rough edges, the honesty and vulnerability in the writing caress your heart gingerly. It captures the solace that only strangers can provide.

Mouname Paarvaiyaal

Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa movie review A sequel with more effective pandemic perspectives

Why is it that we find it so easy to pour our hearts out to strangers, but barely talk to our family about our emotional needs? What happens when silence is not a condition, but a choice? This brings us to Madhumitha’s short Mouname Paarvaiyaal. It’s a title that beautifully fits this elegant dance of gesture and routine. Also, what a great pair Nadiya and Joju George make — unconventional but terrific casting. It’s amazing how much charm the actors bring to the screen without a single word spoken and it’s also the film with the least amount of exposition. There’s a scene where you see Yashoda (Nadiya) and Murali (Joju George) having dinner. The shots have been staged to make it seem like they are eating together. But moments later, you see that they are truly alone, even with each other. Mouname Parvaiyaal shows how the pandemic has helped rekindle forgotten bonds. By providing a common enemy, it has made us recalibrate emotionally.

The Mask

Suriya Krishna’s The Mask takes the route not often taken with a gay protagonist. The short equates the mask with the closet, juxtaposing the psychological claustrophobia of the pandemic with the social judgement on the queer community. “Every day is a lockdown for us,” says Arjun (Sananth). But the film loses steam when it meanders around Velu (Dileep Subbarayan). The exchanges don’t really tie in together and the narrative seems contrived. The Mask is the only short in this anthology where the pandemic feels force-fitted, more like an afterthought.

Nizhal Tharum Idam

Director Richard Antony creates an intimate, personal mood piece on loneliness with Nizhal Tharum Idam. Poignantly written, the film examines the paradox of emotional connection. In our undivided mourning of the dead, do we forget to live and the living? Why do we feel so distant with some people even when they are sitting right next to us, but find solace in a person or an intangible memory. Aishwarya gives an affecting but restrained performance that beautifully compliments Nizhal Tharum Idam’s evocative, atmospheric style.

Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa is streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Rating: * * *

Watch the trailer here

Ashameera Aiyappan is a film journalist who writes about Indian cinema with a focus on South Indian films.

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