Web Series: 'Paper Rocket' (Tamil; Releasing on Zee5). Duration: 7 episodes (total time: 220 minutes)
Writer and Director: Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi. Cast: Kalidas Jayaram, Nagineedu, Tanya S. Ravichandran, K. Renuka, Karunakaran, Nirmal Palazhi, Gouri G. Kishan, Chinni Jayanth, Kaali Venkat and Poornima Baghyaraj.
IANS Rating: ***1/2
Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi's 'Paper Rocket' is a heart-warming tale that revolves around a group of six people who, through a road trip, end up healing themselves and others. The wounds they have suffered are deep because they have been caused either by death, depression, anger or exploitation.
The story is like a gentle stream that meanders its way into viewers' hearts. It begins with Jeeva (Kalidas Jayaram), a much-sought after acquisitions and merger expert, who lives a luxurious life alone in Chennai.
His father Gunaseelan (Nagineedu) is a doting dad but someone who prefers to stay in his native place by the sea. Father and son share a wonderful, admirable bond, regularly talking over phone or staying in touch through voice messages on WhatsApp.
Jeeva's skills are unmatched and his boss looks to make the most of it. He assigns him the responsibility to close his most precious deals that are worth several hundred crores.
Jeeva as such has no problem. His only problem is that it's been six months since he last visited his dad, who has been eagerly awaiting his return. Whenever Jeeva makes an effort to head home, his boss has some other important deal for him to attend to. Eventually, the trips keep getting postponed.
One night, late after finishing work, Jeeva attempts to call his dad. He doesn't get a response. He checks out the WhatsApp messages and sees that his father has posted a voice message for him in which he expresses a desire to go on a long drive in the car with his son.
The next morning, Jeeva sees a series of missed calls on his phone and calls back only to learn that his dad has passed away. He is overcome by guilt of not having been there with his dad when he needed him the most.
Days pass but Jeeva is unable to come to terms with the tragedy. He goes to a doctor (Poornima Baghyaraj) who invites him to a discussion with a group of five other people who are trying to overcome their own problems. How the group gets together and helps each other is what the series is about.
Kalidas Jayaram as Jeeva steals the limelight. He looks every bit the part and is absolutely at ease playing this character. Combining well with Nagineedu(who plays his dad) and Kaali Venkat (who plays a friend), Kalidas is easily the thread holding together all the beads of the beautiful necklace called 'Paper Rocket'.
Tanya Ravichandran as Elakkya, a feminist with anger issues, does a decent job. K Renuka as Valliyamma comes up with a convincing neat performance as does Gouri G who plays an injured swimmer called Charu.
Karunakaran as Tiger and Nirmal Palazhi are adorable but their characterisation isn't very convincing.
The series has some breathtakingly beautiful visuals all through. Richard M. Nathan's camera has had a field day, capturing stunningly beautiful visuals of vales, mountains, mists and the sea. Full marks to the cinematographer!
Music is another strength of the series. Be it the background score or the songs, the music department deserves a pat on the back for having done their jobs well.
Kiruthiga Udhayanidhi delivers a neat, clean, entertaining series that may well be worth your time.