Director: Stanzin Raghu
Cast: Harish Uthaman, Lakshmi Priya Chandramouli
There are some stories that filmmakers need to tell. Not necessarily for an audience or for people to appreciate them, but for themselves. Many of us use our writing and craft as a way to discover ourselves. If we’re honest enough early on, if we truly believe “work” to be an extension of our ever-evolving sensibilities, we learn to wrestle with our own beliefs and pre-set notions.
This invariably amounts to long, curious, quasi-therapeutic conversations between characters (read different parts of the maker) about life, love and everything in between. Aazh Kadal (Deep Sea) is one such film. One can sense that the writer is pontificating with himself through his two fictitious faces.
Fortunately, there’s no pseudo-intellectual, droll posturing; the chat sounds simple, natural, almost naïve and, more importantly, a part of a whole. The whole, of course, suggests chemistry between the two that hasn’t merely sprouted up on this one night. One can also sense that only a filmmaker could have perhaps chosen this particular motif of exploring the oft-abused concept of unrequited, or rather unacknowledged, love.
Without giving too much away – the relationship between the man and the woman defines its verbose tone – Aazh Kadal leaves the stage to its performers. There’s nothing like a decent sense of music, in this case a very alluring lounge-ish song, to trigger off a viewer’s perception of the film’s mood. Harish Uthaman, whose strapping gangster-ish gait lends his actual role an awkward subversive fix, uses his disarming baritone to fair effect. He plays a gentleman, a ‘sensitive hulk’ of sorts, not quite struggling to contain his feelings for the very affable lady (a sprightly, made-for-camera Lakshmi Priya Chandramouli).
Their reactions, expressions and discourse touch upon a playful clash between two lines of thought, two ideologies and generations as such – but nothing that can’t be compromised upon to win the other’s admiration. This admiration, though, serves as an imposter for affection, which is still a luxury for them. Nevertheless, it’s not a resigned-to-fate situation; they seem to be enjoying the opportunities provided by their predicament.
Perhaps it’s this aura of possibility and promise that exists between the two that doesn’t make this straight-lined film feel boring or “slow”. It helps that the actors seem to exhibit a comfort that only comes from working together before or in a small team.
He plays a gentleman, a ‘sensitive hulk’ of sorts, not quite struggling to contain his feelings for the very affable lady (a sprightly, made-for-camera Lakshmi Priya Chandramouli).
Either speak in English or Tamil,” he interrupts her at one point – expressing unassuming nuggets of a culture we’re not used to judging beyond big-budget, regressive, garish masala entertainers. These are the tinier aspects of story-making only observed lately, within the far more innocent, uncorrupted realms of independent cinema.
All in all, this film – or rather, this scene – is an agreeable nutshell exploring the hidden cinema of undercurrents. This is one of the first regional shorts I’ve written about, and I suspect it won’t be the last.
Watch Aazh Kadal here: