Imagine a grandmother, mother and daughter falling in love with the same man and all of them sharing the same house. Pretty creepy, right? Yet, I felt no such discomfort while watching an entire segment based on this idea in Anantham. Despite all the potential for darkness, the story chooses light by embracing the idea of unconventional love. Through the segment, Krishnan Menon, director Priya shows us how with the right gaze, taboo tales can actually be heart-warming and fun.
This sensitivity of the filmmaker is apparent across all the episodes of this part hyper-link, part anthology series. Though Anantham is predominantly a tale of victims, it never tries to milk their ordeals. Instead, it gives us a window seat into their minds and shows us the power of helplessness and how it can devour people, period and place notwithstanding.
Anantham is a story of the house, in the house, and narrated by the house. The tale spans five decades, with each episode becoming a genre of its own. Romance, tragedy, comedy or even horror, you name it… this series, a compilation of simple tales with a novel take, has it. For instance, the segment Parvathy is a story of a child abuse survivor who ends up meeting her abuser. A usual narrative would have you focus on the abuse or the suffering of the survivor, but Priya instead throws light on the familial ecosystem that made the child a victim and the passive aggression that silenced her. Interestingly, the story ends with some gratifying violence. There is even time for a twist. Similarly, in the segment Lalitha, a murderer is chased by past demons, but to her son, she remains the noblest soul on earth.
The series is made with a lot of heart, and it shows everywhere, including in the endearing performances. Two actors who stand out are Amrutha Srinivasan and Vinoth Kishan, talents who need to be celebrated more. Special mention also to Prakashraj’s effortless portrayal of seventy-five-year-old Venkatesan and the ever-dependable Vinodhini Vaidyanathan’s impeccable comical prowess.
This bed of roses isn’t free of thorns. Anantham’s setbacks come in the form of the segments, Rekha and Maragatham, which melodramatically keep speaking about the magical goodness of the house. Not much happens in these stories and the characters too have precious little to do.
During a crucial moment in the series, Prakashraj’s Venkatesan speaks of the importance of dying without regret or guilt; he thinks of it as the perfect ending. Likewise, the climax of a story and the emotion it leaves you with is equally important. Unfortunately, Anantham bypasses its golden moment for conclusion and instead chooses to leave us with an ineffective cliffhanger. Well, at least, Venkatesan gets a satisfying end.
Cast: Prakashraj, Sampath, Amrutha Srinivasan, Vinoth Kishan,
Director: Priya V
Streaming on: ZEE5