Cast: Kalidas Jayaram, Tanya Ravichandran, Renuka, Gauri G Kishan, Karunakaran
After the lockdown imposed because of the pandemic, we have all become more aware of mental health, and how good mental health is essential for healthy living. We all went through a low phase when the virus forced us to let go of our day-to-day lives and sit in our own homes. We faced this due to the uncertainty of what will happen next. Have we ever wondered, what people who are uncertain about whether they will live the next minute, go through? How much thought have we given to the lives of people diagnosed with chronic psychological issues? Yes, we have not thought about them much. Kiruthiga Udayanidhi’s Paper Rocket tries to give us a peep into this world.
The series deals with a number of themes including death, guilt, ambitions, uncertainty, closure, etc. The story revolves around a few people who all know each other through group therapy. Their life turns serendipitous when one day a new entrant Jeeva is their key to ticking off the last things on their bucket list. How they take upon this journey with the different kinds of problems and mental health issues they have, forms the rest of the story.
The series deals with grief most of all. It touches on important subjects including depression, sexual abuse, the loss of your loved ones, life after a serious injury, etc. Generally, a show dealing with grief tends to make the audience morose with melancholy music to go with it. Surprisingly, this series makes you laugh at the most unexpected times. The way it deals with grief and closure gives us some hope about future challenges we may encounter in life.
The character depth is extremely important for this show. The show is about the life of 8 characters and the effect they have on each other. For every single character, there is a backstory that explores their bucket list moment. Some stories are dramatic, some are funny while some are also sad. But, their stories take us on a journey that makes us forget about our own lives.
The beginning of the seven episode series is a little slow. So, you start wondering if the series is just another deep philosophical take on life. Thankfully, the rest of the show does not advance that way. Soon, we are introduced to the fun side of the characters and their stories. Yes, the series has a lot of deep philosophical messages. But, they’re kept to a minimum amount at the right moments. For example, in one episode, a group of children speak volumes about how people become greedy and selfish as adults. In the right way, it feels like a slap on the face and makes us think about all the friends we may have lost due to our ego.
The one thing that could have been better is novelty. Yes, the story is a new one, and explores problems and grief of a number of people. But some of the messages it delivers are ones that we have been seeing in Tamil cinema for a really long time. For example, one episode is about how two brothers are separated because of their greed for family property. That episode spends time teaching us lessons about family and unity. Yes, such property issues exist even today. But, the message has been received from Padaiyappa and many other such movies already. So this in particular could have been different.
Coming to performances, Kalidas Jayaram, Tanya Ravichandran and Gauri Kishan are relatively new to the film industry. After Paper Rocket, we know that they deserve to get many more projects with different concepts. Kalidas, the protagonist and the headliner really lead the show. Other actors such as Karunakaran, Renuka, Poornima Bhagyaraj and Nirmal Pazhani have also given more than their usual best. When the series ends, it makes the audience want more, because it really hooks them episode after episode.
Music has led the show. In some way, this series is also just a set of montages with soothing and meaningful songs. A song about home, ‘Jo Jo Jo’ really makes you homesick. Similarly, ‘Cheranaadu’ sung by Ramya Nambeesan and Simon King is a cute love song to listen to on repeat. Lastly, ‘Kaalai Maalai’ in Sid Sriram’s voice, summarises the whole essence of the series.
Paper Rocket is Kiruthiga Udayanidhi’s third work. So far, all of her works have left us with a feel-good experience. Paper Rocket in specific, really makes us sit and think about the life we live. But, this thought process is not instilled through tough and depressing scenes. It is reiterated through fun-loving relationships and moments in these characters’ lives. After a week of tiring work, Paper Rocket will be a really good weekend binge-watch, especially with family.
Verdict: Watch it with your family and go into deep thought about life!