In the first chapter, Weighing Machine, the makers explore the concept of our sins being added to our weight.
Published: 07th January 2023 09:39 AM | Last Updated: 07th January 2023 09:39 AM | A+A A-
Trailer poster of the upcoming Tamil original TV series ‘Story of Things.’ (Photo | Twitter)
When you watch a film that suggests the presence of the paranormal, what are the various takeaways that one might have from such content? Dread? Fear? Contentment? Relief? Guilt? Regret? Confusion? Sony LIV’s latest series, Story Of Things falls somewhere in the spectrum of quirky and weird. Spread over five standalone chapters, Story Of Things, showcases various forms of horror, especially the ones brewing within the human mind.
In the first chapter, Weighing Machine, the makers explore the concept of our sins being added to our weight. When Bharath and Linga, playing two aspiring actors, get involved in a hit-and-run case, both of them deal with guilt and regret in distinct ways. It is almost like writer-director George Antoney is asking the audience a simple question… What would you have done? When Bharath delivers a brilliant monologue where he weighs out the pros and cons of saving the life or saving his own career, I found myself nodding along with the character. It was a pragmatic revelation, and this prodding of our own psyche is something that was clearly planned by the team.
A similar question crops up in Chapter 2 — Cellular, where the change of a routine for one day creates massive havoc in Aditi Balan’s life. After moving away from her doting, and at times, domineering mother, played by Gauthami, every moment of Aditi’s life continues to follow the timetable designed by the latter. There is a beautiful connection between Aditi and Payasam that put a smile on my face. Also, Aditi is just terrific in the scenes where she responds to the praise coming her way for her cooking. She is equally good in the romance portions, and very few actors do emotional breakdown better than her right now. Anyway, love makes Aditi do her first act of defiance, and she faces disastrous consequences. This chapter deals with one of the greatest horrors of the human mind — overthinking. The never-ending what-if scenarios that we conjure in our heads are suffocating on so many different levels.
This suffocation comes through in the character of Britto, played by a terrific Shanthnu Bhagyaraj, whose strict father Siddique crippled the former’s idea of self-esteem and confidence. When we see Britto as a young kid being mentally and physically abused in the name of discipline and love, his manifestation of this horror makes a lot of sense. In this chapter, which revolves around a car, the makers aim to invoke a sense of intergenerational trauma. The hint of the paranormal in this chapter is probably the only jump scare in the anthology, and it speaks volumes about George’s confidence in exploring different themes in the horror genre.
The chapter revolving around an AC compressor, and featuring Roju and Ritika Singh, is probably the only direct horror film in this anthology. But once again, the makers avoid jump scares and aim to confound the viewers by opting for an interesting take on the appliance horror theme of Story of Things. In fact, this is the first film of this anthology that doesn’t even barely attempt to spell out things and leaves the viewers enough breadcrumbs to find a way home. The short runtime for this segment didn’t really allow a sense of empathy with the characters. Nevertheless, it is intriguing to delve into the dark spaces of the mind where lines between real and illusion get blurred.
There is a similar blurring of lines in the final chapter, Mirror, too, but unlike the other four chapters, this one has a rather cheery feeling to it. Kudos to the actors — Vinoth Kishan and Anshita Anand — for selling the earnestness of their characters. Both are suffering through personal trauma, but never allow it to get in the way of spreading happiness through an interesting medium. Also, George makes a political statement or two in passing, and it is nice to see such nonchalance at a time when a lot of filmmakers believe in shoving down the messages. It is easily the most wholesome segment in this anthology without turning into the saccharine sobfest it had the potential to.
On the downside, there is no consistency in the duration of the five episodes, and it also reflects in our investment in Story of Things. Whenever George takes time to draw us into the world of his protagonists, the suffering, the trauma, the fear, the elation, and even the mic-drop moments work better. Some appliances lend themselves to more drama than others, and in instances of lessened drama, the underwritten arcs are magnified. As always, some segments work better than others, but the common theme of profundity in horror is an interesting layer that manages to pique our engagement whenever things get a bit slack.
Interestingly, a couple of years back, when OTT was lapped up by the audience forced to stay at home due to the pandemic, SonyLIV had some of the better-written content in Hindi. They made a lot of ‘smaller’ but intriguing projects before breaking into the big leagues with Scam 1992. Over the past year, the streamer is trying to do the same with the Tamil market, and with deeply satisfying originals like Story of Things, it is clear that they are definitely on the right path… and it is just a matter of time before Tamil’s own Scam 1992 comes up.
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