Kasada Tabara is a hyperlinked cinema, a collection of many linear stories. That are freely linked by an idea or event. “This is not an anthology,” the creator said over and over again.
As if to reassure viewers that they don’t have to experience another Navarasa. But that’s not the only story either, as one would expect from any feature film. Kasada Tabara is six short stories creatively intertwined.
Chimbu Devan’s greatest success in Kasada Tabara is with the people who fill the films.
We understand the world, even feel our own, simply because the characters look real – inadequate, confused, and vulnerable.
It also helps the actors do a good job. Bala, played by the fresh and underrated prime minister Amaren in the first short film, is a pretty average guy. Second, Anachi (Sampat) is a vulnerable father. The mother-in-law in the very third film is confused and scared.
Sundari (the fantastic Vijayalakshmi) combines strength and desperation by hitting the chin. The helpless Samyuta (Venkat Prabhu in his element) is deaf. Venkat Prabhu as Samyuta wears his shorts almost exclusively over his shoulders.
We see how he goes from gratitude to hope, horror, destruction, and resignation in a matter of minutes, a journey in which he grabs our necks and brings us together.
Vijayalakshmi is amazing as a desperate single mother. There are fight scenes where he uses his entire body to fend off his attackers and channel the fury of his life in each blow. Too bad we don’t see enough of it in our films. Subbu Panchu as the DC Chaturvedi embodies the benevolent oppressor.
The actors who played the parents in the fourth film were very gullible. Aravind Aakash as his rich and spoiled son is deserved. For a film with a big cast, he does most of the things right.
In general, Kasada Tabara works.
But it fails in detail. Each short story is reduced to its bones to fit the time it has. For example, the film about a con artist starring Harish Kalyan moves too fast and expects a small-town boy to know the ways of the underworld without showing what makes him so smart. Reducing a callous and seductive don into a bubbling mess of emotions. It seems too easy.
The love that blooms between Bala and Trisha (Priya Bhavani Shankar) is almost unconvincing. Is it an ambitious woman who wants to earn millions to give up their dreams and live life now that a nice man told her about them? A second film with Sampat, Shantanu and Uma Padmanaban is also in a rush.
He put the dead father’s chair comfortably on the porch so his son could despair. What’s even worse is when his son explains his plight to his killer. Where no explanation is needed at all. The long-range shot does its job perfectly.
The third film with Sandip Kishan confused. Chimbu Devan writes a short argument against prison violence, ending only in andhar balti (360-degree somersaults). This film has a meaningful discussion about police, violence and morals. But he makes a strange excuse to justify the hero hugging a gun.
As I watched the nearly 2.5-hour long film:
I couldn’t help but wonder if Chimbu Devan tried to incorporate into this film. Every idea he’s had in the last six years. Each film occupies a semi-specific genre – love stories, mafia dramas, thrillers, fiction, lawsuits, each of which has a different cameraman, musician, and editor. To his credit, they all did pretty well.
However, the “high-concept” nature of films is a bigger obstacle than anything else. Kasada Tabara begins with an explanation of the film’s theoretical foundations, both at once, point-of-view theory and the butterfly effect, with the animation in the opening credits taking the form of a literal butterfly.
Then the names of the coming short films form a crossword puzzle. The characters discuss ecological cycles at one point.
And some people talk about “thappupanradhu” (committing evil) and “maattikkardhu” (arresting), which I can’t stick to in my philosophy. Yugi Sethu as Lord Krishna fills every microsecond of his screen time with awkward alliteration and unjustified observations.