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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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South Indian television series highlights social and structural sexism

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Telegraph India
“Sweet Kaaram Coffee” is a Tamil-language comedy-drama show about women from three generations who embark on the road trip of a lifetime.

A father and son awake to confusion. The women of their household, always present somewhere, are missing from the home entirely. Leaving behind only a sticky note of an explanation, the women have left for a trip without any previous announcement. In a small, sky blue car, the women ride off into the distance, mirrored sunglasses and bright smiles decorating their faces as they make a great escape, for the time being.

“Sweet Kaaram Coffee” is a Tamil-language comedy-drama show about women from three generations who embark on the road trip of a lifetime. The eight-episode show streaming on Amazon Prime Video powerfully challenges traditional sexism and gender roles in India through emotional messaging and strong dialogue.

The show depicts a family of five: Sundari, an elderly widow; Rajaratnam, Sundari’s son; Kaveri, Rajaratnam’s wife; and Niveditha and Vikram, Rajaratnam and Kaveri’s children and Sundari’s grandchildren.

“Sweet Kaaram Coffee” entails the story of the issues facing the three women of the household. Niveditha is an aspiring cricket player whose romantic partner, Karthik, refuses to tell his parents about her profession due to a fear of embarrassment, as she is a female athlete. Kaveri is a dedicated housewife who feels neglected by Rajaratnam, who sees her value and role purely defined by her chore work. Then there’s Sundari, an aging senior who wants to be trusted to leave the house in pursuit of her own ambitions.

Their frustrations and tensions converge after a particular moment of disrespect in which Rajaratnam and Vikram mock and insult the women, pushing them over the edge and igniting a spark for change. As Sundari questions during a pivotal scene in the first episode, “Are the women in this house mere puppets on strings?” The women decide they need to take a break: a road trip.

But the voyage symbolizes a more complicated journey than any normal road trip. It represents a deeper liberation and self-discovery for the women. Breaking the everyday routine of abiding by the men of the household and beyond, the women give themselves, and each other, the time and space to reflect, understand and share their experiences.

Sundari and Kaveri, played by legendary Indian actresses Lakshmi and Madhoo, respectively, deliver authentic performances uncovering the emotional layers of their womanhood for the audience. And while inviting the audience to think about the many double standards Indian women face in Indian society, the show also manages to perfectly balance moments of seriousness with a general comedic and warmhearted nature and flow.

A Kollywood treasure like “Sweet Kaaram Coffee” exemplifies the modern and progressive wave of themes sweeping across Indian cinema as the next generation of thinking and ideas confront normalized Indian beliefs and practices.

Official trailer:

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About the Contributor
Taariq Ahmed, Digital Editor
Taariq Ahmed is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as the digital editor. He joined the Midway as a sophomore after moving from St. Louis, where he completed Introduction to Journalism at his previous school in ninth grade. Taariq is a part of his school's Young Men of Color group and Being Racially Aware and Valuing Ethnicity conference board. Outside of school, Taariq enjoys reading the news, listening to music, playing soccer and spending time with family and friends.

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  • S

    Shabaana KhaderDec 4, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    What a beautifully written narrative of a recent TV show I really enjoyed watching!

    Reply
  • S

    SomeshDec 4, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    Mr. Ahmed, this writing is truly beautiful and vivid. Keep up the great work!

    Reply