December 16, 2020 8:54:01 PM
With the upcoming Tamil film anthology Paava Kadhaigal freed from the constraints of mainstream cinema and theatrical release, filmmaker Vetri Maaran saw the opportunity to initiate discussions about deeply rooted social prejudices. The writer and director comes across “regular love stories” and says it is “liberating to share relevant and sensible stories with the global audience”. The anthology will be released on Netflix on December 18.
His short film Oor Iravu (One Night) shows the dire consequences of patriarchal thinking that outweighs parental love. Actors Prakash Raj and Sai Pallavi, who play the lead roles of the estranged father and daughter, give them a touch of authenticity with their captivating performances. “I knew that casting Prakash Raj and Sai Pallavi as father and daughter would cut my workload in half. When an actor like Prakash Raj becomes part of such a story, he adds value. Besides that, he has the ability to move from one end of the spectrum to the other in seconds (emotionally) – from a loving father to an aggressive patriarch who would do anything to maintain his faith, ”says Vetri Maaran.
For the role of daughter, he was looking for someone who appears vulnerable and innocent. Sai Pallavi had previously turned him down for Asuran (2019) while she was waiting for a meatier role. This time she came aboard without much hesitation. “Verti Maaran Sir had only given me a short letter. He said he hadn’t written a script and would decide on set, ”recalls Sai Pallavi. By the time the Premam actor reached the sets, she realized how meticulously he was in creating her character and the world she lives in. “He worked from the ground up – from deciding what body language to which phone I would use, while trying to incorporate the elements I would like to portray,” says Sai Pallavi, who is in films like Kali (2016) contributed. and Athiran (2019).
As a filmmaker, Verti Maaran doesn’t hesitate to highlight unpleasant truths about our society. “We should all feel responsible for allowing such incidents to happen and not calling them into question. A film like this should support the ongoing discussions on these issues. I want it to correct the prevailing narrative, ”he says. To what extent does his personal politics determine what he writes? “It is very difficult to be apolitical at this point in history, not just in India but around the world. The power of the right is immense today. But you have to have your political opinion, no matter how you stand – right or left, ”he replies.
However, the filmmaker makes it clear that he doesn’t want his films to be a medium of propaganda. Other directors of this four-part Tamil film anthology are Sudha Kongara, Vignesh Shivan and Gautham Vasudev Menon. While Oor Iravu is about honor killing, other short films deal with gender, caste and sexual violence.
Oor Iravu’s protracted climax – when the father locks the daughter in a room and ignores her desperate call for help – unravels the workings of a patriarchal spirit and justifies violence. Sai Pallavi has little memory of filming for this scene other than feeling utter disbelief and betrayal that her father could hurt her. The same feeling reappeared when she dubbed for the scene. “Even now I have that scar on me,” says the actress, who turned heads last year when she refused to recommend a skin lightening cream.
For Verti Maaran, the idea of the short film started with this disturbing scene. “Someone you loved the most is in pain. However, you are only standing there because you believe there is something greater than the love you have for a son or daughter. I wanted to zoom in on such a moment to see the patriarchy up close. I knew it would be very haunting for all of us. This is our way of saying that this (such violence) has to stop, ”says Vetri Maaran, who has spoken a lot about films like Aadukalam (2011) and Visaaranai (2016).
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