Oru Pakka Kathai
Director: Balaji Tharaneetharan
Cast: Kalidas Jayaram, Megha Akash, PV Chandramouli, Jeeva Ravi and Lakshmi Priya Menon
Balaji Tharaneetharan is one of the most original and exciting filmmakers in Tamil cinema today. Even though he has had just three releases in eight years, his work has earned a decent fan following. With his latest release Oru Pakka Kathai, which has quietly landed on Zee5, he has made it very clear that he is a filmmaker who is genuinely trying – despite all the setbacks he faces to release his films – to tell stories that matter, even if they are bizarre. Oru Pakka Kathai has to be the most bizarre story to have come out of Tamil cinema in recent years but it is not surprising that it has come from Balaji, who is known for quirky but original storytelling.
Oru Pakka Kathai is centered on two middle class families and how they deal with a totally unexpected and bizarre situation. It follows Saravanan and Meera, a young couple madly in love and their respective families are already aware and are waiting for the boy to get settled. All is well in their lives until Meera ends up pregnant but there is some mystery behind it and the story follows how the families deal with this situation.
With great use of dark humour and touching upon themes like religion, faith, abortion and science, the film beautifully explores the core plot. It’s a family drama but one with not so much drama. If one deals with such a bizarre situation in real life, it’s tough to assume how a family will react and deal with it. Balaji uses plenty of dark humour to handle the bizarreness in the story without much fuss. He treats a dark subject in a light-hearted manner but only up to a certain point. The film does take a very dark turn towards the end which is where it gets slightly flawed. But you have got to give it to Balaji and his ability to handle bizarre premises with great use of comedy. Be it short-term memory loss in Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom or the concept of reincarnation in Seethakathi to something unimaginably out of the ordinary in Oru Pakka Kathai, Balaji couldn’t have made these films as entertaining as they are without dark comedy.
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The lived-in performances of the actors play a crucial role in making Oru Pakka Kathai work. It has been a great year for Kalidas Jayaram (who plays Saravanan) with three releases. Here is an actor who consciously picks roles that are not considered mainstream but he owns them with grace. Megha Akash (Meera), too, plays her part quite believably well. Since both of them play a young couple, they bring out the insecurities of their characters very convincingly.
Oru Pakka Kathai, in spite of its flaws, qualifies as one of the best Tamil films of the year. It’s a shame that the film has been lying in the cans for a long time. It deserved a theatrical release and it would have made for a fun watch on the big screen. Nevertheless, Balaji Tharaneetharan is a filmmaker who needs to be celebrated and handed out more opportunities to tell more unique stories.
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