Director: Bejoy Nambiar, Krishna Marimuthu, Swathi Raghuraaman
Cast: Lakshmi, Madhoo, Santhy, Vamsi Krishna, Kavin Jay Babu
Where: Streaming now on Amazon Prime Video
Rating: 3.5 stars
Just when you thought narratives around self-discovery and finding one’s inner calling was a done and dusted schtick, showrunner Reshma Ghatala and her directors Bejoy Nambiar, Krishna Marimuthu and Swathi Raghuraman come together to add a generational dimension through three winning central performances. Freshly grounded and brewed, ‘Sweet Kaaram Coffee’, the newest addition to the Tamil vault of originals streaming on Amazon Prime Video, is a breezy yet thought-provoking take on freedom and independence told through the perspective of women across three generations of a family, who decide to go on a life-altering road trip together, away from the mundanities of their everyday existence.
Sundari (a fabulous Lakshmi) is a widow who feels stifled with her overbearing son’s need to constantly attend to her, as if she is about to breathe her last, anytime soon. From monitoring her intake of food and medicines, Sundari finds her life to be an allowance alloted to her. Her daughter-in-law Kaveri (an age-defying Madhoo) has been the archetype good wife, who has fulfilled all her roles and responsibilities with ease, with little to no expectations for herself. Sadly, their traumas have also been passed down to Niveditha or Nivi (Santhy Balachandran), an aspiring cricketer who wants to find her footing in life, even as she is constantly chided by her boyfriend to give up on pursuing the sport and fit into the ideal image of a prospective bride for his family. Their pent up frustrations lead them to collective rebellion and one night, the ladies of the Rajaratnam household huddle up and zoom away in a borrowed car. Thus begins the journey of discovering new possibilities and rekindling lost hope.
A still from Sweet Kaaram Coffee
The narrative device can seem familiar and redundant. Yet, its the writing and the direction by the makers that propels the story forward, through a refreshing perspective. It’s a stroke of writing genius that generational dynamics are brought into the mix as we witness Sundari, Kaveri and Nivi find their respective agencies, in the larger scheme of things. While their road trip is devoid of a destination, the joy lies in hopping alongwith them for the ride. What also works in favour of the show is that it does not villainise the men. The women are well-aware that they are as much as responsible as the men are to have enabled the existing patriarchy around them. The soundtrack of the series by Govind Vasantha is laced with songs that add heft to the narrative with some songs borrowed from other Amazon Prime Video features. The tiny speed bump on this ride lies in the final act, which seems hurried and tied up with an incomprehensible sense of urgency.
Yet, you remain invested throughout the show because Sundari, Kaveri and Nivi are a trio worth rooting for. Lakshmi as Sundari is phenomenal. Tamil cinema enthusiasts have always seen her play very authoritative parts in her career. Here, she goes for the restrained, yet she knocks you out with her observations and quick-witted lines. Madhoo as Kaveri doesn’t cut out as a docile woman, you’d feel sorry for, yet you come to understand her depravity of self-worth and how does she manage to find her standing in life. Santhy as Nivi offers a confident act alongside her more seasoned co-stars. Given anyone else in her place, it would’ve been a tricky situation to deal with. Vamsi Krishna and Kavin Jay Babu are convincing as Nivi’s boyfriend Kartik and Rajaratnam, respectively. The cast also comprises of surprise cameos, which I shall refrain from revealing.
Ideal for the rainy weekend ahead, cuddle up and enjoy this warm, comforting brew. ‘Sweet Kaaram Coffee’ is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.