BOTTOM LINE: Too Hazy a Mirror to Reflect Reality
Rating: 4 /10
Skin N Swear: Few instances of strong language; no on-screen intimacy
|Platform: Aha Video||Genre: Drama|
What Is the Story About?
Addham is a compilation of three shorts with an underlying theme of self-reflection – the protagonist, in each of the 19-minute long narratives, comes to terms with him/herself when involved in a conflicting situation and has a tough choice to make. A runaway teenager seeks help from a truck driver for a lift to Vijayawada, but a sudden mishap leaves him conflicted between greed and humanity. A man dealing with a rocky marriage and a pushy partner seeks to spend a night with a sex worker, but destiny has something else in store for him. When therapist Vimala meets a businessman who expresses his guilt about an accident he had committed on a fateful night, she just can’t treat him like any other client for reasons best known to her.
Varalaxmi Sarathkumar is passable while she lasts but it’s a character fleshed out too poorly to have any voice at all. It’s disappointing to see actors like Prasanna and Pavithrah Marimuthu miscast in a story that lacks soul – the less one speaks about their Telugu, the better it is. It’s good to see Gowtham Sundararajan back in action after a long time – his story in Crossroads sounded way more interesting than those its protagonists’. Arjun Chidambaram and Abhirami Venkatachalam don’t have much value to add to their stories. Jayaprakash and Rohini come up with the best of the performances in the show and their aptness in the story couldn’t have gotten better. It’s a masterclass of how to utilise one’s screen presence in a brief duration to add so many layers to an already rich story. The teenager M.Praveen shows immense potential in his short too.
Addham, Aha’s second attempt at an anthology series after Metro Stories, forcefully strung together by a theme that’s too vague and abstract, doesn’t quite stir up emotions the way it intends to. The short-film narrative can be quite a test for any filmmaker to prove his/her worth and it’s by no means easy to be minimalistic, insightful and rise above the muck in the span of a 20-minute long story. Addham doesn’t realise the thin line between simplicity and blandness. But for a short titled The Road That Never Ends, everything about it is so airy, baseless and emotionally distant.
When a team involves credible names like Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Prasanna, Kishore, Rohini Molleti and still doesn’t deliver, Addham deserves to be called a lost opportunity. A show is likely to be in a spot of bother when its cast and crew are mostly unfamiliar with the language of its content. Addham is lost in translation and doesn’t feel rooted in its setting at all. The best the show makers could have done is to make the content in Tamil and dub it later in Telugu – some damage control could have been possible. In its current shape, the conversations feel rehearsed and lack any intensity – the focus remains on the broken Telugu of the actors more than the content.
The Unwhisperable Secret, the short helmed by Siva Ananth, revolving around the therapist is absurd at best. It’s the therapist who can’t keep her emotions under check while dealing with a patient and even begins to judge him by his revelations. The way she discusses her client’s history at home and talks of morality with her husband seems equally hypocritical. Someone clearly hasn’t done their homework well. Crossroads, the short directed by Barath Neelakanthan, about a man frustrated with his unhappy marriage, lacks depth too. The talk between the man and the stranger whom he meets at a bar is too mushy and farcical to strike a chord. The narrative is directionless, the characters pointless.
Only the Sarjun-directed The Road That Never Ends succeeds in coming up with anything poignant and worthwhile. His experience with the short film format seems to have come in handy. This is the only short that bothers to give an identity to its characters and their universe through the minutest of gestures quite effectively. The crisply told story of the runaway kid, the creepy truck driver and his empathetic wife has the wavelength to be an individual show in itself. It certainly deserved a better company than the shorts it got.
Addham needed a more concrete theme, tightly knit and most importantly a more imaginative script. There’s nothing novel about it and having a medium that gives scope for any and every story to be told, it’s such a shame. Saying that it’s shot well would only suggest that the canvas works and the painting doesn’t – it’s not something any artist would want to hear about their work of art.
Music and Other Departments?
It’s hard to discuss the role of a music director (Sundaramurthy KS) like a piecemeal job when the content in the shorts doesn’t offer anything meaningful to work with. The best that he and the audiographer Varun Venkataraman do is to stay true to the nature of the three stories and maintain the authenticity of the shorts. Even a stalwart editor like Sreekar Prasad can do little to salvage something as purposeless. They say films get made on the editing table, but this show doesn’t have that elastic to merit that level of discussion. The cinematographer Shelly proves capable of mounting all the stories with enough finesse despite the production limitations, the art director Kathir may have wanted to put in more effort to add meaning and purpose to the show’s setting. Kiran’s dialogues are a mixed bag.
Sarjun’s short The Road That Never Ends
Praveen and Rohini Molleti’s performance
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Addham Web Series Review by Binged Bureau
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