The short film has been directed by Rajesh Rajamani and is about an arguing couple making up over a beef dish.

Making up over beef Pa Ranjith produces short film asking people to VoteOutHate
Flix Short film Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - 13:27

With just a few days left for Tamil Nadu to vote in the Lok Sabha elections, director Pa Ranjith’s Neelam Productions has released a short film taking on the politics of hate. Titled Lovers in the Afternoon, the short film has been directed by writer and filmmaker Rajesh Rajamani, who is also behind the popular ‘Inedible India’ comic page on Facebook.

The film begins with a couple (Radhika Prasidhha and Regin Rose) arguing, even as an old song from the 1954 film Penn plays on TV. Quite appropriately, the song is called ‘Kalyanam Haa Haa Kalyanam’! Though we cannot hear what the argument is about, what follows is typical in the average household. One partner walks out on the other and slams the door. If food can be the way to a man’s heart, why not a woman’s? So that’s what happens next – the man goes to a beef stall and whips up a delicious meal which brings the two of them back together again. The placement of the popular ‘Kalyana Samayal Saadham’ (which is about a vegetarian feast) from Mayabazar as the butcher chops up the meat not only suggests that the man is going to cook but also reminds us how rarely we’ve celebrated beef on screen. In the south, it is only Malayalam cinema which has routinely shown the consumption of beef in the mainstream.

Lovers in the Afternoon, set in a house with soothing and mellow blues, is a straightforward story but given the current political climate, telling it in itself has become an effort of resistance.

Speaking to TNM, Rajesh, who is well-known for his anti-caste writings, says that he was among those invited by Neelam’s online team to discuss the kind of content that their channel should produce.

“We all agreed that we could start making content that reflects Neelam’s ideological position on the current Lok Sabha elections. I was then asked if I could write and direct a short for the same,” he adds.

Pa Ranjith’s last film was Kaala, a Rajinikanth starrer which took on saffron politics upfront. The director has repeatedly said that art can never be apolitical and has been committed to representing the cultures and stories of the marginalised with dignity and a sense of celebration.

Elaborating on the idea behind Lovers in the Afternoon, Rajesh echoes Ranjith’s views.

“Art certainly influences how a society collectively perceives anything. In the short we made, we tried to relieve beef of the unnecessary baggage it has been burdened with and restore it to where it truly belongs. That it is a pleasurable food people consume while bonding with each other,” he says. 

The film ends with the hashtag ‘VoteOutHate’. Pa Ranjith confirmed to TNM that Neelam has one other short film with the same message that will be out soon. The director was among those from the Tamil film fraternity who signed a letter asking people not to vote for the BJP in the upcoming elections.

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