Paava Kadhaigal is an anthology film, consisting of four short film segments which tackle four unique stories. The segments are directed by Sudha Kongara, Gautham Menon, Vetrimaaran and Vignesh Shivan.
Paava Kadhaigal explores various topics intertwined with one main theme – the honour of the family and society lie with the women. Through four different short stories, we see the various disgusting cases that plague our society, a society drowning in its own hypocrisy so much that it doesn’t know how to come out of it. Or maybe, it doesn’t want to.
Before going into the stories, although I did like the overall theme of Paava Kadhaigal and how it tackles these societal problems without beating around the bush, the anthology also loses out on subtlety, both in terms of showing these violent scenes and sometimes showing the triumph of love.
We are all aware of how much women and the trans community have to suffer every moment of every day and then some. However, bringing forth such a disturbing topic to screen requires some amount of tact and gracefulness, which Paava Kadhaigal seems to sometimes be missing. While the movie overshares and draws out the horrible and despicable acts on its protagonists who are “different” or have made a different life choice, it also oversells on the triumphs making the feelings of exhilaration quite corny. It definitely takes the matter home, but at the cost of some much-needed subtlety.
The first story, directed by Sudha Kongara, focuses on a trans man who does not try to hide who they are. Society does not shy away from poking fun at their expense, going as far as to physically assault them, but it doesn’t stop them from being who they are. They have a soft spot for their best friend who, unfortunately, likes their sister. However, what happens when they help the lovers escape? A heart-wrenching end scene will surely leave you feeling quite sick at how horrible society can be.
Paava Kadhaigal’s second story, directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon, follows a family of five who are happy and content with each other. However, after the older daughter gets her menstruation, something horrible happens that shatters their family. Dealing with rape, a threat that is ever-looming in our country, and talking about shame and honour, this story will make your gut-wrench, but will also give you hope.
Love Panna Uttranum
The third story, directed by Vignesh Shivan, deals with love. Featuring a pair of twin daughters, a father must come to terms with their love lives and shatter the society that whispers vile things into his ears. However, when one tragedy occurs, will he be able to forgive and forget? Touching on the topic of lesbianism, this story gives a whammy of an end scene and is probably my least favourite of the four.
The final story, by Vetrimaaran, focuses on a pregnant woman and her relationship with her father. Although things seem great at first, 2 years after they became estranged, will they be able to reconcile their differences? Probably one of the most disturbing segments of the anthology, this story is difficult to watch, especially the last 10 minutes.
Caste and creed play a major role, along with the place of women in society. There’s a lot to unpack here, and although the anthology never shows too many new things or anything that might give you hope, it definitely does open your eyes to the fact as to how anyone other than cisgender, heterosexual, upper cast men are treated in our society even today.
Summing up: Paava Kadhaigal
Paava Kadhaigal, although missing a few points for subtlety does its share of bringing forth important themes and the stories of people who are marginalised in society. It will definitely give you some very extreme emotions and it’s short enough to keep you engaged throughout. The stories are shot brilliantly and most of the acting is also quite believable. All-in-all, this anthology will stay with you for some time to come.
Paava Kadhaigal is streaming on Netflix.
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