Kaiyum Kalavum Web Series Review: A quirky, confident, and delectable comedy
Kaiyum Kalavum is more of a vibe for the most part because it is in almost surrendering to the absurdity that we begin to enjoy the audacity of it all
At one point in Kaiyum Kalavum, Vakkil (Vivek Prasanna), who moonlights as a pimp, brutally assaults a customer who physically harasses a sex worker. With every single blow, it is clear that Vakkil is doing this because he wants to impress someone. Moments before this assault, we see him enjoy a romantic Ilaiyaraaja number, and moments later, we see him penning a heartfelt, even if illegible, poem for someone. But not even in their wildest dreams, would a majority of the audience guess the object of his fascination. Similarly, when we are introduced to the life of a housewife (Ramya Nambessan) who wants to pick fights with all and sundry, the reason behind it is inexplicably original. The same holds good for the other characters in each episode, including a father (Senthil), Meenakshi (Madonna Sebastian), and a librarian (Karu Palaniappan). They are such fantastic characters with fascinating needs and they perfectly fit the magical and outlandish world created by Roju in Kaiyum Kalavum.
Cast: Roju, Sanchana Natarajan, Ramya Nambessan, Vivek Prasanna, Madonna Sebastian
Streaming on: SonyLIV
Kaiyum Kalavum begins with a story that happened long long ago, which results in an intergenerational curse that befalls the lives of two people. One is so down on luck that resorting to thievery is the only thing that saves him from a 7-generation itch. Roju plays this unnamed role who gets a garish reddening itch on his hands if he doesn’t steal something that a person says is their wish. Almost like the grinch who steals wishes. On the other hand, we have Sanchana’s Anbu, who wants to become a thief but she too is so down on luck that every assignment done by her team of ragtag small-time crooks fails to hit the mark because of her actions. It is the crisscrossing of these two worlds that take us on a weird ride encompassing suicide attempts, medical crimes, illegitimate relationships, skewed social outlooks, and lofty yet nonsensical ideologies. But amidst all this, it is the will-they-won’t-they romance that acts as a strong binding factor in Kaiyum Kalavum.
Kaiyum Kalavum is more of a vibe for the most part because it is in almost surrendering to the absurdity that we begin to enjoy the audacity of it all. The moment we start questioning the ‘why’ of certain incidents, we will encounter a never-ending barrage of such queries. Why did Ramya’s character just not talk with her husband? Why did Madonna’s character choose to come to the temple on that exact same day? How did this ragtag group of people come together in the first place? Who exactly are the people voiced by Simhaa and Chinmayi? And the list goes on… But I didn’t care about the reasoning behind a lot of these characters’ actions because Roju doesn’t really bother fashioning out an extensive backstory for them. The leads seek each other out through a series of unfortunate incidents where unlimited coincidences bring them together. If the possibility of it all is baffling, then just remember that there is no place for reason and logic in Kaiyum Kalavum.
But what it does have a place for is some consistently convincing performances by actors who get to play characters that are both grounded, and yet so outlandish. Right from the way these characters are named, to the way their arcs get fulfilled, the series works as a decent platform for a lot of these actors. Sanchana and Roju are terrific as the leads who also often break the fourth wall to speak to the narrators, played by Simhaa and Chinmayi. Their arcs have a bit of start-stop nature but they throw all their weight behind the oddball characters. If Jeeva as PMC, the leader of the pickpocket gang is affecting, then Jane Thompson and Avinash as Mandhiri and Nalla are terrific straight-faced fits in a world that is skewed in favour of the eccentric. Vikas’ Aayiram is required to be over the top, and the actor sells it efficiently. There are a lot of quirky characters like the aunty working in the protagonist’s shop, and even asides like the protagonist’s day job, show signs of a series that refuses to be bogged down by the burden of stereotypes. Also, it is refreshing to see young filmmakers understanding the difference between representation and tokenism, and even throwing in social messages without much fanfare.
Of course, with so many characters with zany traits and even more kooky aspirations, Kaiyum Kalavum runs the risk of being a bit flabby in parts. It isn’t like all the jokes land. It isn’t like all the gags rightfully run their course; if some definitely do, there are some more that are unexplored, and some overstay their welcome. The same thing holds good for the bunch of cameos. Some are wonderfully woven into the larger scheme of things, some fall on the wayside, and some just coast along long enough to move on to the next set of scenes. Even the final act, which leaves open the possibility of a second season, feels a bit underwhelming probably because we were rooting for closure after all the whirlwind happenings of the eight episodes. But it is all held together by the unwavering idiosyncrasies of the series, the terrific music (score by KS Sundaramurthy and songs by Satish Raghunathan), and the visual aesthetics, which does its best to ensure that the different worlds of Kaiyum Kalavum not just complement each other but are unique too.
Kaiyum Kalavum is a tough series to talk about without giving away spoilers because it is the unravelling that adds to the fun of the series. I remember the wide smile knowing what the names of PMC, Aayiram, Anbu, and the like meant. I wish the audience too get an audible gasp knowing Vakkil’s love interest, and give appreciative head nods when seeing seemingly random incidents neatly interconnected by some impressive writing flourishes. Kaiyum Kalavum is best experienced firsthand, and even if it doesn’t work in parts or its entirety, there’s no denying that this series is unabashedly campy, unwaveringly genuine, and most importantly… gleefully original