OTT movies, Tadka: Love is Cooking, Parthiban
Ever since Parthiban made his directorial debut with 'Pudhiya Paadhai' (1989), he has tried to bring newness to Tamil cinema. 'Iravin Nizhal' which released on Amazon Prime, is quirky and is supposed to be the world’s first “non-linear single shot movie”

OTT: Experimental, wacky cinema, bland love stories, next-gen short films

Besides Anurag Kashyap's well-made Dobaaraa, there is Tamil writer-director Rohit Nandkumar's eight-part series 'Kaiyum Kalavum', a web series based on magic realism. Also on the menu is a short film adapted from an article published by The Federal

Filmmakers are constantly exploring new territories and pushing the envelope to tell their stories on celluloid in experimental ways. Anurag Kashyap’s Dobaaraa currently streaming on Netflix falls in that space and turns out to be an absorbing watch.

When the film hit theatres in August this year it garnered critical appreciation but bombed badly at the box-office and mustered to mop up just over ₹ 4 crores. But, this film has landed on Netflix now and can be enjoyed by cinephiles who love a good thriller.

The film is about a woman Antara Awasthi (Taapsee Pannu) who finds herself in two worlds, her current and her future world.  The problem is that there is a gap of 25 years in between and she is confronted with a life in her future sans her little daughter. So, Awasthi is naturally angsty and realises she is in a messy situation because she interfered with the past of a little boy called Anay who had died in an accident after witnessing a murder.

It’s intriguing to watch her as she tries to join the dots of the events in Anay’s life and somehow get back to her present. There’s a murder thrown in to add an edge to the goings-on, a philandering husband and the possibility of real love adds to the charm of the movie. Since it is a remake of the Spanish film, Mirage, try not to watch that film first. The twists and turns in Dobaaraa is what makes it an engaging watch. Taapsee Pannu is earnest and compelling.

Wacky and dark

On the topic of inventive ways of telling stories, there’s Tamil writer-director Rohit Nandkumar’s eight-part series Kaiyum Kalavum, which landed on SonyLiv this weekend. Nandkumar (whose debut web series Kallachirippu in 2018 was highly appreciated) is back with a series based on magic realism. With a generous dose of dark humour and some unimaginably wacky characters, the series has picked up mixed reviews. Some love it, while others find the series, presented by Kartik Subbaraj, bizarre.

Kaiyum Kalavum tells the story of how the universe conspires to bring together a boy Police (played by Roju himself), who is cursed with a literal itch to suppress the desire of people around him, and Anbu (Sanchana Natarajan), a clumsy member of a pickpocket gang who is beset by back luck. The series is presented by Bobby Simha and Chinmayi Sripada.

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There’s a self-hating homemaker (played by Ramya Nambeesan) who is so happy she wants to commit suicide, an eccentric, gun-toting lawyer who cannot express his feelings for the woman he loves, a librarian who wants to burn down a library, and others who unleash a chain of events which bring the two star-crossed lovers together. According to the director, he wanted to write a story that cannot be explained in a line or brought down to one sentence and the idea is to smash all the rules. Well, he seems to have done that for sure as viewers try to come to grips with the loopy characters.

Parthiban’s dreams

Here’s another film from the big daddy of experimentalism – actor director Parthiban. Ever since he made his directorial debut with Pudhiya Paadhai (1989), the actor has tried to bring newness to Tamil cinema.

Iravin Nizal (Shadow of the night) tells the story of a tormented soul, who has been dealt a harsh card in life since he was a child. So, he believes the only way to survive in this terrible wicked world is to be a bad guy. Nandu (Parthiban)’s mother is murdered by his alcoholic father, who goes to jail making him an orphan. His foster family begins to mistreat him with the arrival of their biological child.

Nandu finds himself on the streets and is subjected to every kind of cruelty. When he becomes a predator as an adult, he becomes a father of a baby girl which forces him to get in touch with his conscience. Like most of his films, here too, most of his problem stems from women, and his redemption too lies there. This film has been marketed as the world’s first “non-linear single shot movie”, which means that this 90 minute film was shot in one go.

Reviewers have called it “quirky”, with one reviewer even saying Parthiban thinks the unthinkable and pushes a boulder up a hill. However, the film fails on the story front. Check it out on Amazon Prime Video.

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Love and Food

Can you be too old to fall in love? Tadka: Love Is Cooking is the love story of two ageing unmarried people, archaeologist Tukaram aka Tuki (Nana Patekar) and RJ Madhura (Shriya Saran). They accidentally connect through a phone call and their growing attraction for each other is fuelled by their love for food.

The official remake of the 2011 Malayalam blockbuster Salt N’ Pepper, Tadka… is directed by none other actor Prakash Raj. This film, which was made much earlier, skipped the theatres and landed on Zee5. According to initial reviews, the film is bland and lacks zing.

This film has earlier been made in Tamil as Samayal Arayil, Ulavacharu Biryani in Telugu, and Oggarane in Kannada. In this Hindi version, which Prakash Raj felt he had to make, Nana Patekar convincingly plays a middle-aged man living a routine and uncomplicated life, whose life goes haywire when he falls in love.

His nephew Siddharth, played by Ali Fazal, and Madhura’s only friend Nicole, played by Tapsee Pannu, provide solid support, but this romantic comedy teeming with confusion falls flat. Though Shriya Saran said this film feels like a “tight hug on a cold day” and wanted viewers to enjoy this sweet film, this one is no Cheeni Kum. That light-hearted souffle of a film with Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu, had a chef falling in love with a younger woman.

Short films on Netflix

Ten months ago Netflix introduced Take Ten – a short film workshop and competition to discover and support emerging Indian filmmakers from varied backgrounds. They were also each given a grant of $10,000 to fund their short films, all based on the topic of “Home”.  One of these young filmmakers Aditi Sharma took a story on the plight of tea plantation workers in Munnar that had appeared in The Federal to make this compelling short.

It is about a tea plantation worker who dreads her retirement, which means that she will have to give up her home. Her daughter, who harbours dreams to get a government job, has to cave in to become part of an exploitative labour system. Check it out for the effective storytelling and the acting.

All the 10 films, including the Konkani short, Barkha Naik’s ‘Salt’ ( A father-son drama that delves deep into redefining a relationship that has been marked by deafening silence for years); Murali Krishnan’s ‘Stockholm’ (Malayalam), a comedy-thriller that explores the humorous relationship between a kidnapped elder and his captives, Manasvini Boovarahan’s ‘Bijli’ (Tamil, Bhojpuri), a moving story about motherhood told through the perspective of a mother’s relentless search for her missing daughter, are all available to watch on Netflix’s YouTube channel.

New big release: Ponniyin Selvan 1, Mani Ratnam’s historical-drama is based on the eponymous novel by Kalki Krishnamoorthy, which takes place in 10th century Thanjavur. It revolves around the Chola kingdom and the internal and external threat looming over it. As crown prince Aaditha Karikalan, his younger brother Arunmozhi Varman and the emperor, Sundara Cholar get separated by situations, it is up to a messenger Vandiyathevan to ensure the safety of the kingdom as unrest grips the land as a long-tailed comet arrives, signalling a time of turmoil. Amazon Prime members can stream the film in four languages – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam for free starting November 4.

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