MOVIES

Paava Kadhaigal

My (spoiler-free) take on the Netflix anthology film

What if you are in a dark room, and there’s no way out? What if every door you’re struggling to open is met with a sharp blow to your fingers? What if it’s done by someone who is supposed to help you get out of the room in the first place?

At the fag end of this eventful year, there isn’t much left to say or do. We have experienced fear, anxiety, concern, subsided anxiety (not calm), then a little peace amidst family, some quiet moments of solitude (although rare), and the occasional rhythms of the humdrum of life on lockdown. Fear for life made us put aside a lot of things that normally occupy the top positions in our priority list. All that is now left to say, really, is thank you; all that is left to feel is gratitude, for the life we’ve managed to hold on to.

This sense of gratitude was only heightened when I watched a collection of “Sin stories” on Netflix. Words cannot express what watching the stories will do to you, and I shall not attempt to do so. But at the end of it, I felt gratitude for the parents I have, the values they believe in, and the privilege that is a part of my life simply by virtue of being a part of my family.

What if you are in a dark room, and there’s no way out? What if every door you’re struggling to open is met with a sharp blow to your fingers? What if it’s done by someone who is supposed to help you get out of the room in the first place?

What if you decide to cut off your own arms? What if you decide to blind yourself and live in permanent darkness forever? And what if, you really really don’t want to, but do it anyway?

The first and last episodes of “Paava Kadhaigal” (directed by Sudha Kongara and Vetrimaaran respectively) are two peas in a pod — in terms of genre, conflict, and brutality. Yet they are different, conveying equally hard hitting messages in distinct ways, through unique stories, through many eyes of the brilliant cast. Their cries of anguish are intrinsically different, and your eyes will tear up at unexpected moments.

The third piece (directed by Gautam Vasudev Menon) deserves special appreciation, as it is perhaps the most common occurrence in our society — not quite the central event of interest, but the reaction following it, especially of the mother. She regards her honor higher than her own blood, her next of kin. She hates herself for thinking this way, yet she does.

This is what society does to us — brainwashes our very being little by little, that we think of ourselves to be a shining new bicycle, when in reality, we have become dysfunctionally rusted. The sad part is, even when we become aware of this, we continue to be exposed to the salty air.

I am coming to the second piece (directed by Vignesh Shivan) last because I believe this short best sums up the message this anthology film is trying to convey — acceptance. This story is the odd one out in many ways, even in terms of tone (which was a little confusing, to be honest), but the story manages to deliver an idea so profound, it is almost ridiculous!

“Love Panna, Uttranum”

This roughly translates to, “if they love, let them be”. No matter who it is; and that is key. For, who are we to judge who someone should end up with?

Isn’t this, truly, the heart of “acceptance”?

Watch Paava Kadhaigal at your own risk; it is certainly not for the faint-hearted. It is not yet another story to consume, but a newsflash we all must take notice of.

For an extensive dissection of the episodes, check out this review from my favorite critic!

A reader, a writer, a nature lover.

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