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New Amazon Prime anthology film Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadha represents the rise of the ‘vulnerable’ man.
‘Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadha’ translates to ‘Will a fresh, new dawn not rise?’ It seems like the question has been answered. A new dawn has arisen. The dawn of the non-toxic man who is not afraid to show all sorts of emotions.
The patriarchy has us all caged, including men. The ideal, ‘masculine’ man is only allowed specific reactions like anger or stony silence. This effect is reflected in films as well. For instance, think of stereotypical ‘love failure’ songs from Tamil films (almost always from the male perspective). Sorrow from break ups is dealt with by consuming alcohol and blaming the woman. However, Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadha, a COVID-themed anthology film, presents a new type of man.
An important scene from Loners – a short film from the anthology – is very simple. A man (Arjun Das) who has been dealing with the death of a friend throughout the movie, is finally able to truly express his grief. He has found a friend he can cry in front of. That is all there is to it. And yet, it is everything. It shows you the kind of anthology that Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadha, is.
Speaking of crying, another short film that really breaks the image of a stereotypically masculine man is The Mask. Arjun (Sananth) has just been in an argument with his boyfriend when he gets a call from an old acquaintance, Velu (Dhilip Subburayan). The film is about the conversation between the two. In other Tamil films, Velu would have just been the villain’s henchman. However, this is not any ordinary film. It is both heart-breaking and heart-warming to watch Velu cry over his dead beloved and admit that he is scared because he does not know what to tell his son in the future, when he asks him about his profession.
Fear is another emotion that has been explored well in this anthology. Mouname Paarvayai explores a colourless relationship between a married couple (Nadiya and Joju George). Their relationship turned sour because of his stereotypically masculine, toxic behaviour in the past. It is interesting to watch them deal with Yashoda’s potential COVID diagnosis. Murali gradually becomes more open about caring for her, and it is when he shows just how afraid he is for her, that is the turning point in their marriage.
Nizhal Tharum Idham is about a woman, Shobi (Aishwarya Lekshmi), dealing with the death of her father. We never see her father, and yet, we learn a lot about him from her. He was afraid of letting people get close to him. Her father did not talk to Shobi about the death of her mother, which affected her negatively. In contrast, her friend Eric (Nirmal Pillai) talks to her about feeling like his friend is becoming distant from him. There is no toxic possessiveness, just vulnerability. The difference is stark when comparing how the two men deal with being separated from women they care about.
Mugakavasa Mutham is about two police officers (Gouri G. Kishan and Teejay Arunasalam) who are on COVID duty, helping a younger couple elope. This brings them closer together. Murugan is pleasantly open (but not crass) when it comes to complimenting Kuyili, whom he is attracted to. And it is lovely to see that he does not always take the lead, in love or war. Kuyili is the one who kisses him first. She is also the one who first suggests they help the younger couple. Murugan is not the stereotypical hero who dives headfirst into saving people. I loved that he is first shocked by Kuyili’s suggestion, before agreeing to it. The film does not judge him as a lesser man for this. It might seem small, but it meant a lot to me!
When men are allowed to express their feelings in only very specific, toxic ways, it not only affects men, but it also affects women as we are on at the receiving end of their bullshit. So, men learning how to express their vulnerability in healthy ways is really important.
And cinema often influences people, which is why a movie that shows vulnerability and softer emotions in men is incredibly refreshing to me. Men, please go watch Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadha!
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