We have to thank Vetri Maaran for steering his producers and colleagues towards making an anthology movie chronicling the sins that people commit in the name of honour. If not for him, we may have ended up with four romantic tales, instead of four gut-wrenching stories that are timely and relevant.
Vetri Maaran is right to use the freedom and the opportunity that the medium of OTT provides him to examine a subject that is seldom addressed in mainstream cinema. A platform like Netflix allows the filmmakers not to pull punches while digging deep and revealing the grotesque face of violence stemming from people’s unwillingness to acknowledge that all human beings are born free and equal. It is a shame that we are at the beginning of 2021, and still, this universal truth is hard to accept for many.
Each short film in Paava Kadhaigal is more disturbing than the previous one. It is not an easy watch. Not at all. But, ignoring the problems that these stories address only reinforces the safe bubble around us, making us more passive and indifferent to the issues of casteism and bigotry that are wrecking the lives of people around us.
For years, movies have been cruel when it comes to portraying transgender characters. And that’s why we need decades worth of movies, short films and documentaries like Sudha Kongara’s Thangam to rewire our perspective about the LGBTQ community and our response to their issues. We need movies that remind us over and over again that they too nurture desires, ambitions and long for affection. Thangam also shows what happens when society refuses to accept transgender people, which effectively denies them the safety of family and the law, opening them to everyday abuse both emotionally and physically.
Vignesh Shivan’s Love Panna Uttranum, Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Vaanmagal and Vetrimaaran’s Oor Iravu all deal with society’s perception of how a family’s honour is directly tied to the chastity of its female members. While Vignesh and Gautham tiptoe around the subject with the sensibilities of mainstream filmmakers, Vetrimaaran pushes the boundaries in dehumanising those who commit murders in the name of honour. Oor Iravu turns us into a witness of a horror story, which is based on real-life incidents.
Paava Kadhaigal offers a peek at the horrors that humans are capable of inflicting on others in the name of honour. And experiences like this would surely make us more empathetic to the sufferings of others.