Akka and Mei Mei (Deepavali Special Telemovie)

One of the best frames in "Akka and Mei Mei"
Pakiam (actress chitra) who is 68 years old, switches on the radio and listens to a tamil song. There is a close-up shot of her hand turning the knob of an old radio. A few seconds later, she turns the radio frequency to another channel- a Chinese song is being played. Standing near the radio, like an empty soulless shell, her eyes seek for the truth- the most beautiful of memories swirl in her mind. We enter Pakiam’s world instantly. 

“Akka and Mei Mei” is a story about 2 sisters who got separated when they were young, get reunited after several decades. It is an utterly sincere and earnest work from Director Don and Team. With a solid story and a very intriguing screenplay, "Akka and Mei Mei" probably, is the best for this year.

Writers Kalpana Ramalingam and Sivakumar Balakrishan have done a fabulous job in providing every character a chance to flourish. The screenplay keeps gaining momentum. The story could have been a clichĂ© one, focusing on how the sisters got separated and the struggles they went through at young age. However, the beauty of “Akka and Mei Mei” lies in the other layers of the story- the love-hate relationship between Pakiam’s daughters and the love and affection showered on the granddaughter by Pakiam.

Just like how Power Pandi grandpa was adorable and cute, grandma Pakiam is potrayed to be a strong fun-loving woman. She has her hidden sorrows but she doesn’t show her sadness to others. She loves being with her granddaughter who takes snapchat videos and Pakiam joins in. She doesn’t like sweet pastries but she still follows her grandchildren to the cafĂ©. She wants her daughters to be united. She genuinely advises them even though she herself suffers from inner turmoil.

With exceptionally gifted bunch of actors on board, watching them perform is a true bundle of joy and bliss. There is a sequence when Pakiam visits her elder daughter Malar (actress Parimala) and they have conversation in the kitchen. The way Malar multi-tasks - opens the fridge, checks some stuff, moves to the kitchen top, prepares coffee, goes to the sink to wash the utensils and comes back to continue with the conversation. That is, what we call, natural acting. Truly a delight to observe such nuances of acting and kudos to the highly skilled and talented director, Don Arvind to have captured these moments.

My most favourite scene in ‘Akka and mei mei’ is the scene between the elder daughter, Malar and her sister, Valli (actress Kalaivani). An authentically depicted well-written scene. Every ebb and flow of emotion is underlined. After much persuading and convincing done by Pakiam, Valli decides to visit Malar. Malar starts off with an apology. She shares with her sister about what happened to the brother’s business. 

And there is a pause. Malar becomes teary-eyed, sniffing and reveals her pressing health issue. The different shades given to both characters, not labelling anyone of them as an unaffectionate sibling and that tough situations have made them to behave in the way they had- another instance of brilliant writing!  

Dialogues are another pillar of strength. When the grandma Pakiam tells the granddaughter, who are both sharing the same bed, “unaku puthu idam. athu thaan thookam varalai.” 

And the granddaughter, “unaku pazhaiya idam thaane. Unaku yen thookam vara maatengudhu.”

That encapsulates Pakiam’s inner struggles in just two lines. That is telling a tale, straight from the heart. For that ingenuity and top-notch narration, Don Arvind and team, hats off! Thank you for giving us this soul-stirring visual feast this deepavali.