Kannamoochi web series Review: A pleasantly surprising web series about unpleasant things
The technical quality of Kannamoochi gets better as it goes, and also has some smart and sensitive writing to boot, albeit in patches
The web series space continues to throw pleasant surprises. I mean, sure, the content continues to be rusty on a few counts including fairly rudimentary ones like acting, production design and cinematography, but I quite enjoy the freedom it is accorded and what some filmmakers are able to do with it. In Avinaash Hariharan’s Kannamoochi, there’s a scene in the fifth and last episode when a burly man clubs the heroine, Priya (Poorna, who sells trauma really well in the role). Typically, you’d expect her to shriek or howl in agony. The usual idea in Tamil cinema is to have the woman go, “Aaargh!” Here, Priya, almost in an agonising whisper, mumbles, “F**k!” Something about it really resonated with me, for, this is how a woman like Priya, living as she does, will likely react to being physically assaulted. There are such small tasteful touches every once in a while in this web series about a paedophile, an abducted girl, and her mother who’s out to save her. I remember a small conversation between two women, in which one complains about her unhealthy sex life. I remember that scene with a paediatrician, where a girl kisses him on the cheek to make up for her mother’s failure to bring her wallet. It’s all pretty subtly done. Kannamoochi has some smart, sensitive writing… in patches.
Director: Avinaash Hariharan
Cast: Poorna, Amzath Khan, Vivek Prasanna
Streaming on: Zee5
This isn’t, of course, the same as saying the web series offers faultless entertainment. A usual problem for web series content is how some characters and moments get stretched to match increased duration. In Kannamoochi though, given that the five episodes are barely half-hour each, it feels more like a case of a feature film getting split to suit the format. It’s a pity because some of its characters are quite interesting and come across as underdeveloped. The introductions seem like the filmmaker going through the motions quickly, so they can be assigned to their respective purpose. Take Santhosh (Amzath Khan), the food delivery executive. There’s an effort to write in a moving idea about self-redemption, but it doesn’t move you because you don’t feel for his trauma as much as you should. It feels cursory and rushed. A character suffers from a life-threatening condition, but again, it’s introduced to you in a flash, and boom, he’s out. A character is shown consuming child pornography, and the police are hot on his trail, but then, this angle—and the police officer involved—do not feel as cohesively integrated into this story. Each of these stories here may have benefitted from more filming. I’d definitely have liked to know a lot more about the most interesting character in this film: Its villain, a paedophile. There’s a lovely twist about him, and it’s a character whose menace is drawn from how quietly manipulative he is. There’s a scene when a woman is shown to be humiliating him, and you can feel his seething anger without the facial features ever contorting. A simple turn of his face is enough to suggest the evil he is about to become capable of. If this had been an actual web series, with hour-long episodes, we would have learned so much more about this person, the origin of his depravity, his modus operandi…
My biggest grouse with Kannamoochi is the wholly needless supernatural angle that’s forced in. It’s a story, a web-series, that has enough thrills with humans slugging it out, without a ghost having to come into the picture. Sure, it’s not a ghost that possesses or really acts on its desire for vengeance, but this ends up begging the question even more on why the character was necessary. Perhaps the makers were doing what Tamil cinema often does. When in doubt, bring in a ghost?
Web series content isn’t exactly known for technical excellence—not in the regional space anyway—but I liked that Kannamoochi gets better as it goes, with the final episode, in particular, having some crackling cinematography (Prasanna S Kumar) and music (Sundaramurthy S). As the villain cackles and approaches the victim, you see his silhouette against a sea of red, his large figure quite reminiscent of a satan figure you are shown earlier in the series. As Priya is hacking into someone, you can see the blood splattering stylistically onto a windowpane, as light streams in from behind, suggesting that hope could well be on the horizon. Perhaps my most favourite aspect of Kannamoochi is how it stands firmly by the vulnerable. Towards the end, a group of people—a band of heroes, if you will—come together to take down the villain, and I could not but pause a moment to reflect on who these four people are: A single mother, a woman housekeeper, a food delivery executive, and a man with special needs. How can you not feel warmly about this?