Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum, an enchanting tale of ‘LOVE’, Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum, Vijay Sethupathi


At a time when we are bombarded with materials that claim to be an ‘exhaustive’ recording of ‘love’ and ‘true love’ (is there false love!!?) that seems to envelop even the toddlers, here is Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum directed by debutant Arunkumar which stands tall for its sensible, true and a charming perception of the emotion.

When was the last time you saw a not so young couple express their affection for each other in a very true, realistic, uncinematic manner in a film? And when was it that you saw a Tamil film which did not service the stars or act as a medium to brag about the intelligence of a director?

Set in the 80s, Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum (PP) is the story of a Pannaiyaar Jayaprakash who comes to possess a Premier Padmini temporarily at first, which goes on to become a permanent fixture in his life later on and his emotional bonding with the four wheeler.

PP is not just about a man’s fondness for an inanimate object but is also about the many charming facets of his life like for instance, his love towards his wife (Thulasi), camaraderie with driver Murugesan (Vijay Sethupathi), vulnerability when it comes to his daughter or inclination to help his village folks or the childlike happiness on realizing that his friend who had given him the car would be delayed owing to sickness.

The period is the 80s when there was tolerance in marriages and when there was not much thinking that led to snapping off matrimonial ties in a jiffy. If one has to point out a single scene that depicted the beauty of marital relationships in PP or the essence of the film, it has to be ‘onakkaaga pirandhene’ number. It is unusual that a song you expect to be filmed around young couple is actually on an old pair and the simple lyrics of Vaalee with Prabhakar’s lilting score convey it all.

The understanding that emerges only after living together for many years, the acceptance of your partner for what they are and the lack of need for words to comprehend your mate are all well brought out in Jayaprakash and Thulasi’s relationship and more so in this number. The manner in which Jayaprakash asks Thulasi to fall at his feet and the way she dodges this in a playful manner or how he flattens out the ‘aruvamanai’ or how he serves her food but masks it when the servants come, are all a part of a delightful poetry to say the least. It is indeed a lovely writing by Arunkumar. You don’t need loud dialogues or a massive action to convey finer feelings. And in real life, there is no dialogue writer who prompts our lines!

It is not a lovey dovey or a mushy depiction that we are used to seeing in films. This is a realistic take and this is how normal people in normal life behave. When you love someone so dearly, their happiness and sorrow becomes yours and that’s why Jayaprakash does not want Thulasi to know that he cannot drive because he feels that would upset her. And that’s why Thulasi instructs Sethupathi to give a false credential on Jayaprakash’s driving so that that would make him happy.

The characters in PP don’t carry grudges and are forgiving and forgetting. Although Pannaiyaar is keen to have his car repaired, when the mechanic derides his driver, the former clearly states the position of the driver silencing the mechanic. He also has no qualms in asking for forgiveness from Murugesan when the latter leaves his house on a statement made out of momentary anger.

The character of Pannaiyaar in PP is unassuming, a rarity (for such roles) in films and he does not throw his weight around his subjects. In fact when he is learning driving, it is his driver who takes on an upper hand with him being a very meek learner.

When it comes to his daughter, even though he knows that she is unreasonable, Pannaiyaar cannot rise up to her only because of his love towards her. He does not even complain when she refuses his car but blames himself for not being open.  There is so much positivity in the film that you come out of the theatre satisfied and with a pleasant smile.  There are plenty of such lovely moments in the film.

Director Arunkumar takes an ordinary man, a woman and a car, places his artistic microscope on their plain lives and divulges contours rich in intricate details that are so enjoyable and relatable to consume. In short PP exudes so much of goodness and innocence that the audience is subjected to an experience that is akin to getting softly caressed by a gentle drizzle or a soothing breeze.

Well done Arunkumar and team!

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