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Review Tamil

Oru Pakka Kathai review: A slightly flawed dark comedy with a bizarre premise

Release Date: 25 Dec 2020 / Rated: U / 02hr 11min

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Haricharan Pudipeddi

Despite its shortcomings, Balaji Tharaneetharan's latest offering qualifies as one of the best Tamil films of the year.

Balaji Tharaneetharan is one of the most original and exciting filmmakers working in Tamil cinema today. Even though only three of his films have been released in the past eight years, the director's work has earned him a sizeable fan following. With his latest release, Oru Pakka Kathai, which has quietly landed on Zee5, he’s made it very clear that he’s a filmmaker who’s genuinely trying, despite various setbacks, to tell stories that matter, even if they seem outlandish. Oru Pakka Kathai has the distinction of being probably the most bizarre story to have come out of Tamil cinema in recent years, but this is not surprising as Balaji is renowned for his original albeit quirky approach to storytelling.

Oru Pakka Kathai is centred on two middle-class families and the manner in which they deal with a totally weird and unexpected situation. It follows Saravanan (Kalidas Jayaram) and Meera (Megha Akash), a young couple that is madly in love. Their respective families are aware of their relationship and all is well until Meera ends up pregnant under mysterious circumstances one day.

Touching on topics such as religion, faith, abortion and science, the narrative explores a plethora of themes wonderfully. Oru Pakka Kathai is a family drama that is not quite dramatic.

Balaji uses plenty of dark humour while matter-of-factly showcasing the story's absurdity,  handling the heavy subject in a light-hearted manner but only up to a certain point. The film takes a very dark turn towards the end, which is when its shortcomings become evident. But you’ve got to hand it to Balaji for the film's original premise and comedic value. As was the case in his previous films, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom (2012) and Seethakathi (2018), which dealt with short term memory loss and reincarnation respectively, Oru Pakka Kathai wouldn't be half as entertaining without the element of dark comedy.   

The performances also play a crucial role in making the project work. It has been a great year for Kalidas, who consciously picks, and goes on to own, roles that are not typically considered mainstream. Megha is quite believable, and the duo brings out their respective characters' insecurities convincingly.

Oru Pakka Kathai, in spite of its flaws, qualifies as one of the best Tamil films of the year. It’s a shame that the film has been lying in the can for a long time. It deserved a theatrical release and it would’ve made for a fun watch on the big screen. Nevertheless, Balaji Tharaneetharan is a filmmaker who needs to be celebrated and provided more opportunities to tell his unique tales.  

Oru Pakka Kathai is being streamed on Zee5

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