The COVID-19 Corona Virus Pandemic outbreak, has changed the way we live and perceive our lives. Amidst all this dull and gloom, five talented filmmakers have come together to present their works, together as an anthology. The Amazon Prime Original Putham Pudhu Kaalai, brings together for the first time some top-notch filmmakers like Sudha Kongara, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Suhasini Maniratnam, Rajiv Menon and Karthik Subbaraj.
Ilamai Idho Idho (Sudha Kongara)
Rajiv (Jayaram & Kalidas Jayaram) is an aged single parent who makes a secret plan to meet up with Lakshmi (Urvashi & Kalyani Priyadarshan) - another single parent, without their respective children's knowledge. Just as their day progresses and they are rediscovering love as their younger selves, the Indian government announces a nation-wide 21-day lockdown and this gives the both of them a chance to spend the 21 days together! What starts off as a wonderful journey of companionship turns out to a point where the two begin finding faults with each other and having intense arguments. When Rajiv's daughter and son-in-law suddenly come home to deliver some essentials, it suddenly turns chaotic. However, amidst all this chaos, some clarity emerges between Rajiv and Lakshmi.
Avarum Naanum - Avalum Naanum (Gautham Vasudev Menon)
Just as the title suggests, this segment is between two people - a granddaughter (Ritu Varma) and her grandfather (MS Bhaskar). MS Bhaskar is a retired nuclear physicist who is widowed and living alone. When the lockdown is announced, Ritu's parents who are visiting her sister abroad, ask her to go and take care of her grandfather. Ritu is reluctant as her grandfather had severed all ties with her father and mother after their marriage and only interacted with her sister and her, once a year. With a lot of misgivings, Ritu begins living her lockdown with her grandfather. The reluctant relationship begins opening up and slowly the two begin bonding. However, when MS Bhaskar opens up to Ritu about the reason why he distanced himself from her parents, things take a turn. How does the lockdown end for the granddaughter & grandfather?
Coffee, Anyone (Suhasini Maniratnam)
Valli (Suhasini) and Saras (Anu Haasan) come down to India to celebrate their mother's 75th birthday, knowing well that she is in a coma after being afflicted with Locked-in Syndrome. They are in for a shock when they come home to see their father (Kathadi Ramamurthy) has shifted their mother (Komalam Charuhasan) home and is caring for her under his personal care. Valli and Saras's younger sister Ramya (Shruti) is estranged from her parents after getting into an argument with their mother for quitting her bank job and pursuing her passion in music. As the sisters go through their own personal issues and successes, Ramya calls home to wish their mother on her 75th birthday. The sisters are all happy when their mother shows signs of movement. When Saras & Valli get up the next day to happily celebrate their mother's birthday, they are in for a shock as their mother and father are missing from their bedroom.
Reunion (Rajiv Menon)
Sadhana (Andrea) is pushing her broken-down vehicle and trying to find a mechanic when she crosses the house of her childhood friend Dr. Vikram (Sikkil Gurucharan). She walks in to find Vikram's mother (Leela Samson) and states her situation and tries to book a cab to leave, when Vikram's mother tells that he would be back soon and he would drop her off. Dr. Vikram comes back home and just as he is getting ready to drop off Sadhana, he receives a call telling that one of his recent patients has tested COVID positive and that he has to go into self-isolation. He conveys this news to Sadhana and when she is in a dilemma as to where to go because of the lockdown, Vikram suggests that she stay with his mom and him, till the lockdown gets over. Sadhana and Vikram's mother get along very well until she is found out to be a cocaine addict. Vikram's COVID test results show he is negative but when he tries to reason with Sadhana to let go off her addiction, she turns aggressive. Does the situation get better?
Miracle (Karthik Subbaraj)
A chain smoker (Muthukumar) who seems to be in some sort of trouble, gets more and more frustrated as a phone call gives him some disturbing news. Meanwhile, a lifestyle guru on TV extolls people to believe in miracles and tells that people can soon expect a miracle to happen in their lives, very soon. A couple of guys (Bobby Simha & Sharath Ravi) are broke with not even enough money to obtain their next meal. They decide to make use of the Corona lockdown to make some quick money. They hear from a friend of a friend that somebody has hidden away money in abandoned vehicles and that they send their henchmen to check on the money, twice a day. They identify one such car and despite checking it completely, are not able to find money. They think of atleast selling the stepney to earn a little money for food. While trying to escape from the place, they chance upon a building and thinking of it to be an IT company, decide to steal atleast a couple of laptops to sell and make money. When they break into the house, they find bags of money and drugs. They also shockingly come across a guy (Muthukumar) who seems to have committed suicide and is dead. Did they manage to escape with the bags of money?. The next day, all those involved in this, are in for major shocks - pleasant and otherwise!
Sudha Kongara's Ilamai Idho Idho is cute through and through with perfect casting and wonderful performances. The lovely inter-personal relationships especially how it changes in a confined space has been beautifully portrayed. Despite the wonderful characterisation, there seems to be something hurried or rather a little missing towards the end though. GV Prakash's music is a big boost to this segment and the transition between the characters' younger and older selves have been awesomely done. GVM's segment has gotten his trademark treatment. The evolution of a relationship with some good dialogues were outshone by wonderful performances by MS Bhaskar and Ritu Varma with some cute moments characterising the evolution of their bond. The 'Kanna Thoodhu Po Da' song is very soothing but the camera makes some movements throughout the segment, which seem unexplained.
Suhasini Maniratnam's segment feels a little superficial especially in the performances and staging. However, there were some very good moments and Shruti Haasan and Anu Haasan were very good in their roles. There were also some feel good moments but the impact is slightly lesser when compared to the other segments so far. Rajiv Menon's segment has elicited some classy performances by all three lead actors. Sikkil Gurucharan steals the show and Andrea is a good foil. Though the staging wasn't totally relatable in some very few portions, it came together as a whole especially with a very sweet ending. Well, what do we say about Karthik Subbaraj's segment? He takes us back to the good old Naalaya Iyakkunar days. The shortest but most quirky and funny of all the segments, Miracle just takes us on a good ride. The plot twists are interesting and with 3 wonderful performers, there seems to be nothing to fault!
With the COVID lockdown and quarantine as the connecting theme, five wonderful filmmakers have come together to bring out some positivity in these gloomy times. Playing around with limitations to get the absolute best is not easy and seeing these directors present such a fine product in Putham Pudhu Kaalai, is very refreshing!
Verdict Embrace the new normal with a very refreshing anthology from some talented filmmakers!