“Akka, can you please buy the pavadai for me from the mall. I cant go in there but I will pay for it” – My help requested me the other day.

The chasm that divides the have and have-nots is so abysmal and vast, that having the necessary financial resources is trivial in the whole scheme of things.

I recently watched an award winning Tamil movie called “Kakka Muttai” (Translated: Crow’s Eggs) which is about two slum kids longing to eat pizza and their unrelenting quest for it. Written and directed by M Manikandan, it’s a marvelously simplistic plot yet rich with serious undertones.

For two very enterprising boys whose life’s goal becomes tantamount to biting into a succulent pizza, their simplistic conjecture, that acquiring money for the pizza was all that was required,was rudely shaken when they face a barrage of hurdles.For a moment, my naivity almost made me make the same mistake.

The simple act of walking up to a pizza shop and eating a pizza seems like a gargantuan task.The invisible shackles that a society enforces is a thought that often escapes our mind when we see only well-dressed folks in a mall.The film is superb in how it translates such a simple aspiration of kids into such deep societal questioning and our so called “normal” way of living.

The Times of India gave the film 4 stars out of 5 and wrote, “Manikandan’s Kaaka Muttai is multi-layered; on the surface, it is all warm and inviting — a feel-good film about two kids and their simple desire and the earnestness in the filmmaking invites comparison with Iranian films like Children of Heaven…there is a hard base to it as well and from time to time, the film turns into a commentary on the class divide in our society and how it is exploited by wily politicians, an allegory of the effects of globalisation, and even a satire on media’s obsession with sensationalism”

For me, the best stories are the ones which leave things unsaid. The simple and relatable ones but which are delightfully multi-layered. Kakka Muttai is a movie that’s going to remain with me for a long time. I couldn’t find one with subtitles but if you do get a chance, this is a movie that you shouldn’t miss.

Along the same lines was this succinct 9 mins short film called “Haircut” by Anand Tiwari and Sumeet Vyas. A film about a man from an economically disadvantaged section of the society, who goes to get a haircut at a fancy salon.Unlike Kakka Muttai, the protagonist does manage to gain access to the hallowed precincts of the salon but, the chasm is still too wide to be crossed. And interestingly, is it time that we shouted that the emperor isn’t wearing clothes 🙂


19 thoughts on “Haircut

  1. Now that was an absolute treat! The lead actor has fused himself with the protagonist. Bhai Sab, haircut ??? was an absolute punchline.
    You have also dwelt on the growing chasm between the haves and have-nots recalling your maid’s request to get her a ‘pawadai’ (I had to google it) from a mall, the crusade of two poor kids to eat a pizza in that movie, and references to the plight of kids represented in Iranian cinema. Recently, the photograph of a child rescued from a bombarded building in Syria has been going ‘viral’, and I think of Naxalism, Bolshevism and the Chinese cultural revolution.

  2. Lovely! I found that video heart-breaking! I am yet to see kaakka muttai and intend to. You have a marvelous way with words, Asha, and I love it. Thank you for a wonderful read. Did you happen to watch a movie called “Pasanga”? That was amazing too.

  3. alkagurha

    I’ve seen this movie before. And yet, watching it again was a treat. We can’t even imagine how huge and complex divide is!

  4. people have double standards or colonial mentality.why someone has to think that eating at dominos or mcdonalds as a big deal.people in india have replaced our toilets to eating habits with western stuff in the name of shows people lack originality or respect for their culture of shop not allowing slum kids to maintain hygiene is a sensible thing,nobody will stop them if they take a shower and go with clean pair of clothes.will you sit in a restaurant if the table is not clean with house flies around.its simple logic right.

    when india hosted common wealth games, everyone made fun of it cuz you can’t do certain things when you are living in utter poverty.if you have capacity or determination to hold things at such level,people will question why you don’t have same determination or capacity in alleviating poverty.same is with poor or slum kids,they should not strive for things which don’t match their lifestyle,they should try to get over their basic needs like education and becoming financially sound should be their motive.

    people make movies like kakka muttai ,haircut,etc etc adding unnecessary drama to exploit people sympathy to become there any need for a guy to have haircut at a place which doesn’t match his lifestyle.its really stupidity .and people who make movies on such things are really senseless vultures.

    when i went to a mall for the first time when malls were new to india,they were not selling normal or indian coffee,so i have mispronounced cuppachino as cuppacinho and the guy tried to correct me as if i have done a big mistake.will indians behave same way if italian or american can’t pronounce indian food item properly. at least educated indians can pronounce things correctly if they are told once,americans and italians can never pronounce our things correctly even if you train them. indians have this slave mentality or inferiority complex even after they got freedom 70 yrs back.people are really senseless.

    1. Its indeed a pity if works of art which reflect the nature of the society we live in, cannot be appreciated. But the right to hold a contrary opinion is also a right, just like eating pizza is. Who’s to judge if someone should or should not aspire for something.

      Since the topic of clean clothes was brought in, the movie Kakka Muttai also depicts how even after going to considerable effort to procure clean clothes,still they were not let in. So obviously just the cleanliness logic doesnt work.

      The point of common wealth games etc, is definitely a different debate. Which also opens up questions on how much money a developing country should spend on anything considered “frivolous”, the definition of which could become subjective extending to sports, scientific pursuits and such.

      Regarding the experience of denigrating people who cant pronounce foreign dishes, that is definitely deplorable. However I would choose to distance the movie from “western influence” because the primary purpose was to show the divide and the “pizza” itself was just a suitable method.

      1. why don’t you try on your own, take a slum kid with clean pair of clothes to dominos or pizza hut and ask him to buy a pizza on his own and just watch it from outside.nobody will question him or nobody will throw him out.people are busy in taking orders and they will behave just differently only if your dress is odd from others or if you dunno what to order or to buy.again this is related to importing someone’s culture where natives are unaware of and people struggle to imitate someone’s culture on their own land cuz of people promoting slave mentality. movies have too much drama than not writing this to argue but i have seen behavior of staff at dominos and pizza hut. i have seen activists who took slum kids with same soiled dress to mcdonalds to create unnecessary drama and to defame. even sarvana bhavan in chennai won’t allow slum kids if they don’t wear clean dress.

        even if you take a public transport like volvo ac bus with uncombed hair and unclean dress,conductor will tell them the ticket price before they get in cuz his job will be in danger if a poor guy can’t pay for ticket after boarding.once i have seen poor villagers inside a volvo bus and they were very uncomfortable with everyone staring at them,the lady was carrying a kid and the kid did vomit all over plush bus,she took her towel and cleaned everything in fear that people will shout on her.nobody said anything but everyone left the seats around her.why to face insult in order to do things that don’t match your lifestyle.i felt very sad for her and she was much more civilised than english speaking rogues at PVR who keep legs on front is sometimes misused to make livelihood and art doesn’t show reality to sensationalise little things and art doesn’t show complete picture of society for its selfish liberties and understandings.

        there is a scene in movie PRETTY WOMAN where julia roberts is asked to leave a designer store for not dressing appropriately,julia might have avoided that situation if she was conscious about wearing a dress that is decent enough to call herself civilised.there is difference between being civilised and financially downtrodden.what makes people civilised is education and money is always a secondary thing.whenever i go to pvr to watch a movie,people have lot of money to buy things and they speak flawless english with western accent but they don’t have common sense that they should not use a smart phone or chit-chat while watching movie,so there is divide between civilised and uncivilised when it comes to behavior. if art is liberating people,they should have shown why poor are selling their votes for free tv sets and mixer grinders instead of free quality education and employment.if kaka muttai want to buy pizza,they shouldn’t have taken free tv sets.divide in society will exist as long as people are characterless or unethical which includes both poor and rich.

  5. Yes, you rightly said it. The bridge is really very wide. Once I saw this family in the mall. They were clearly looking and feeling very conscious due to how they were dressed. Many well-dressed people glared at them. They wanted to buy veggies. The movie you mentioned is in Tamil. Will it be available with subtitles? I have seen Haircut before. It is so true. Sometimes, I also feel ripped off at the rates these parlors subject us to.

  6. jaishvats

    I have seen kakka mottai and you have aptly described what message the movie conveys and brilliant acting by the entire cast. … This series is beautiful and this particular post is wonderfully written with a richness in language..

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