Tamil web series November Story is a drama masquerading as a crime thriller. It is a brilliant exploration of power dynamics in familial relationships.
Murder has been committed. The protagonist’s family member has been implicated. And the protagonist will go to any extent to cover up the crime and protect their family member. Oh, and they borrow ideas from fiction to do so. Sound familiar?
I thought Drishyam was an extremely fascinating film. It was so exciting to watch the intelligent protagonist come up with novel ways to save his daughter. However, it was only recently that I was wishing that the movie had not had a man doing all the saving. My wish has been granted in the form of November Story written and directed by Indhra Subramanian.
He has crafted an intricate tale in which women shine, and unlike the usual hypermasculine narratives that feature male saviours that do every single thing, multiple characters – both male and female – play an important role in saving the day, even though it is clear who the heroine is. This is realistic, and at the same time, does not take away from the characterisation of the heroine.
Drishyam was the story of a father who protects his daughter. November Story is about a daughter who protects her father. If George Kutty’s inspiration was films, Anu uses her knowledge of crime novels. However, November Story is so much more than just that – because there are several significant characters in it, it focuses more on relationships than Drishyam did, and that is its strength.
Anu is extremely smart. She is brilliant at coding. And she uses her wits when she has to outwit the police. She also shows her emotions instead of feeding into the ridiculous false dichotomy between intelligence and emotions that is used as an argument for men being ‘superior’ to women.
Anu is a caretaker for her father who has Alzheimer’s disease. While she really loves him, the series also shows us that caregiver stress is real. It does this without villainising her for giving in to that stress, instead of being the unrealistically caring and affectionate daughter as our society would expect her to be.
There is also the additional complexity of secrets about her childhood – secrets that could change her whole life – that her father won’t reveal… but involve another father-daughter duo with a far more sinister power dynamic. This father needs the daughter to feel good about himself, and he is willing to go to any extent to keep her within his control. Perhaps this different dynamic has to do with the patriarchal conditioning that men and women go through, that when a father cares for a daughter, he is more controlling?
There is a hint of bittersweetness when the series ends. No matter what happens though, it helps to remember what Anu’s father says to her, “This is your story. Only you can finish it.”
But how does Anu take control and finish her story?
What secrets does she unearth?
Who committed the murder?
Why does Anu have to do all the heavy lifting?
How does she use a knowledge of crime novels to deal with the situation?
How will she deal with things when her father becomes a danger to himself and others?
And can she figure out who her real enemies are, in time?
Watch November Story on Disney+HotstarVIP to find out.
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