Paava Kadhaigal in Netflix: A top-notch anthology that explores facets of “honour” with the help of a brilliant cast

Posted on December 18, 2020


paava kadhaigal

Sudha Kongara, Vignesh Shivan, Gautham Vasudev Menon and Vetri Maaran give roles of a lifetime to actors like Kalidas Jayaram, Simran, Prakash Raj and Sai Pallavi.

Spoilers ahead…

Sudha Kongara’s Thangam is the perfect start to Netflix’s four-episode Paava Kadhaigal. It establishes the anthology’s theme in the broadest and loosest sense, and this theme is “honour”: maanam. Among the first images we get is that of Sathaar (Kalidas Jayaram) admiring himself in a mirror. “Himself” is probably not the right word. Sathaar would prefer “herself.” She is saving up for a gender-reassignment surgery and she refers to himself in the feminine, which must have been incredibly difficult to deal with in 1981, the time the film is set in. But then, with Sathaar, I suppose there wasn’t exactly an option. With her swinging gait and lilting speech, she is not “manly” in the conventional sense – whether she wanted it or not, she was always “out”. And so she probably thought she might as well go all out: line her eyes with kohl, dye her lips with betel juice, and hope that her love (for a man) is reciprocated.

This is a brilliant, unusual take on the idea of “honour”, which we usually – in the movies, and  in these “Love Jihad” times – associate with caste and religion. Here, the word is linked to gender. The question shifts from “What if you are a Hindu and fall for a Muslim?” or “What if you belong to an oppressed caste and marry someone from a dominant caste?” to “What if you are a man and want to be a woman?”

Read the rest of this article at the link above.

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