Pannaiyarum padminiyum / Lanlord and Padmini

In this light nostalgic comedy, the head of a remote Tamil village hopes that he we will soon be able to go along on a trip with his wife in the famous Padmini car, which he was entrusted. But the only villager who can drive is young tractor driver Murugesan, who has gotten so attached to the car, that he doesn’t want to share his driving skills with anyone.

Trailer Pannaiyarum padminiyum.

2014 – 151 min – drama, comedy
Directed by: S U Arun Kumar
Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Jayaprakash, Iyshwarya Rajesh
Language: Tamil
Subtitles: Czech, English
Format: DVD

The Premier Padmini, a licensed copy of the Fiat 1100, is one of the most widespread and best known Indian cars. In the 70’s and 80’s it was considered quite a prestigious and comfortable car, as compared to its main competitor, the Ambassador (licensed copy of the British Oxford III), it was better looking and was better equipped. Padmini is still the most common model of Mumbai taxis, although it is inexorably disappearing from the roads to make place for incomparably more modern cars of Indian and foreign construction (including the Czech Skoda). But for the heroes of the film shot by debuting Director Arun Kumar, the significance of this car, even if designed in the early 60’s, is such that they develop an emotional bond to it almost as if it was a human being.

The story is set in a remote village, which was until recently not deserved by any bus, and whose inhabitants don’t much come in contact with the conveniences of the modern world. The only indication the story is set in the late 90’s and not in the first half of the 20th century, is the popular superhero series Shaktimaan, which runs on television in the village leader’s house.

The storytelling is characterized by its relaxed atmosphere and very slow pace. It is clear that it was originally shot as a short film and later developed into a feature film. But Kumar’s focus isn’t so much on the story, which is very simple, but on the attributes of the characters and their relationships. When Murugesan the driver peers at a young girl, it is indeed a pretext for some pleasant song scenes, but overall it receives much less attention than the conjugal love between the villager leader and his wife.

Pannaiyarum Padminiyum belongs to those films, whose magic is based on dialogues, culturally specific artistic expression and many relatively subtle references, so it is quite possible that it won’t be fully appreciated by a foreign audience that doesn’t speak the Tamil language, and isn’t savvy in local cultural realities. But watching it can be an interesting experience for viewers who know Indian villages from Bollywood films only, which presents them as overly romanticized destinations full of folkloric attractions. In Pannaiyarum Padminiyum, the village is mainly a place lost to time, which is a complete counterpoint to the crowded Indian cities.

Author: Miroslav Libicher