Putham Pudhu Kaalai And AB Aani CD - Two Amazon Prime Video Regional Films That You Missed

Two Amazon Prime Video regional films that you should add to your watch list

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Putham Pudhu Kaalai And AB Aani CD - Two Amazon Prime Video Regional Films That You Missed
Putham Pudhu Kaalai (Tamil, Amazon Prime):  We all know this is the time when we need  to be  kind.And if  you don’t know why then you probably live under a rock. None  of  the characters  in the five stories of this  well-intended omnibus  lets  us forget that they are  living during a time of crisis and trying to make  the  best of it. The omnibus’ opulent and omniscient optimism of the presentation made me feel  the best thing to have happened to fractured relationships is the Coronavirus.The  first story Ilamai Idho Idho directed by Sudha Kongra plays it for cuteness to the hilt,and places two older  people together to enjoy time away from the judgmental eyes of their children. Very selfconscious in its sunshiny intentions, the narrative does instant-time switches. Sometimes we see the couple (played by Jayaram and Urvashi) in their 60s. Sometimes in the 20s (played by two star-kids Kalidas Jayaram and Kalyani Priyadarshan). It was a delight to discover the spontaneous charms of Jayaram’s son. He is a natural.

Sweetened is the only way to describe the next two  segments  Avarum Naanum – Avalum Naanum and Coffee, Anyone? In the former, an estranged grand daughter gets  a chance to know how ‘cool’ her  granddad is, when she reluctantly  comes to  stay with him. Brimming with  the aroma of  shastriya sangeet and traditional values this segment, directed by Gautham Menon is an ode to the creaking joints of  the joint family

In Coffee, Anyone? Directed by Charu Haasan , Kamal Haasan’s clan (his niece, nephew, daughter are all there) descends to squeeze tears  out of the viewer with their sugary tale of a comatose mother, her obdurate husband (who won’t put his wife into the hospital) and their three daughters who stumble through differing stages  of hysteria in trying to good guilt-ridden  daughters. When Shruti Haasan starts singing a traditional Tamil song on the internet decided it was time to flee the scene and let this  family  stew in its own juices. Or percolate in  its own coffee beans.

In the fourth story Reunion directed  by Rajiv Menon a goodhearted young doctor and his  angelic arthritic mother take it a stranded girl as a house guest when the lockdown suddenly happens. The girl, brimming with  nervous energy,  repays their kindness by snorting cocaine in their  bathroom. When she  locks herself in, the doc bursts into an old Tamil song which calms her nerves. What about  the viewers’  abused nerves? Just when I thought it was time for the abused  hospitality to end, the hosts  decide to  do a  crash-rehabilitation  programme on  the girl. If they needed  lockdown entertainment they could have just  subscribed  to Amazon!

The  final story Miracle directed by  Karthik Subbaraj has more bite than the  darkish yelps   of the  four other  stories. Two petty criminals, one  suicidal filmmaker and a miracle (pronounced ‘meer-yaquel’) man on television come together in an unexpected clasp of  irony . This, I thought, was the story that I wanted  to see more of. Not the other over-sweetened melodramas oozing with the condensed milk of  human kindness. Leaves you queasy.

AB Aani CD (Marathi, Amazon Prime Video): Amitabh Bachchan as a concept rather than a  living reality is nothing  new. In  the Kannada film Amritdhare Mr  Bachchan was cast as a dying woman’s  last wish. Nearer  home , there is a brilliant  short film called Yours Truly, Amitabh in which a retired man (the wonder  Kumud Mishra) gets his  neglectful family’s attention by  claiming he once corresponded with the iconic mega-star.

This kind of metaphorical iconization is unique  to  Mr Bachchan. His stardom defines acting just as Lata Mangshkar’s  vocals define singing. ‘Who do you think you are, Amitabh Bachchan?’ is  a classic putdown for someone acting too big for his boots.

In this quaint Marathi film, the Big B is ubiquitous in the way, say, in another context Rebecca was in the Daphne du Maurier novel. The actual hero of AB Aani CD, the Joan Fontaine of this Marathi Rebecca, so to speak, is Vikram Gokhale. He plays an unhappy retired  gent(have you seen any protagonist being happy after retirement?) whose extended family begins to treat him with the  mild contempt that we have seen Mr Bachchan and before him Rajesh Khanna go through in Baghban and Avtar.

There is nothing new about Vikram Gokhale’s  projection of hurt humiliation and muffled anger as he fights against his own swelling dismay at a family that seems to respect only his  “connections” with the mega-star. The family, I  am sorry to say, is a bunch of broad-stroked  caricatures… you know, the bitchy bahu who  wants to rid the house of the patriarch’s legacy ,  and the docile men who cannot help being bullied by the women of the family into mistreating the retired patriarch because otherwise they wouldn’t get it in the night.

Ironically while Vikram Gokhale is in almost every frame (sometimes joined in joyous singing by Neena Kulkarni  who plays  his  wife) it is Mr Bachchan who presides over the plot. Does he actually show up in the film? Ah, the big  mystery question best left unanswered. This film does enough of that.

Image source: IMDb, Amazon, Youtube/AmazonPrimeVideoIndia/Rajshri Marathi