The comfort of old belongings that also happen to go bump in the night – the new Tamil-language series Story of Things embraces this paradox with curiosity and flair.

Recurring elements connect five episodes, created, written and directed by George K Antoney for SonyLIV. Themes of complicated memories, unhealed psychic wounds and lingering remorse are represented by inanimate objects that appear to be sentient, from a haunted car to a mirror that is a portal.

The surrealistic conceit is carried out by suggestion, creeping camerawork and sound design rather than visual effects. There are flashes of horror in some of the episodes, with moments imported directly from the scary movie canon.

Three chapters are linked by guilt – and finger-wagging morality – represented by a weighing scale, a mobile phone and an air-conditioning unit. The parables of an ambitious actor (Bharath Niwas) who drives over a poor man, a young woman (Aditi Balan) who neglects her mother (Gautami Tadimalla), and a filmmaker (Roju) who keeps a wad of money that doesn’t belong to him are characterised by a needlessly punitive streak.

Bharath Niwas in Story of Things (2023). Courtesy Chutzpah Films/SonyLIV.

These episodes contain strong patches of writing and solid performances from Linga, Aditi Balan, Arjun Radhakrishnan and Gautami Tadimalla. Antoney mercifully lets up in the other two episodes, which memorably examine familial abuse and second chances.

A fashion designer (Shanthanu Bhagrayaj) re-acquires his father’s old car – a reminder of painful memories as well as a literal vehicle for his redemption. The fifth episode has a lovely song Thanimayile (composed by Madley Blues, written by Harish Venkat and sung by MS Krsna).

Downbeat college student Sethu (Vinoth Kishan) makes contact with Nazia (Anshita Anand), who appears to him in a mirror in his rented apartment. Nazia’s problems prompt Sethu to stop whining and start living.

Anshita Anand in Story of Things (2023). Courtesy Chutzpah Films/SonyLIV.

Some of the episodes give the impression of short films stretched out into full-length episodes. The overt spelling-out of the connection between the characters and the vivified objects undermines the show’s fantastical quality.

Yet, the solidly produced and performed series is an intriguing flight of fancy. Might the juddering air-conditioner be telling us something we don’t want to hear? Is the weighing machine reflecting body weight as well as unaddressed wrongdoings? Story of Things makes a good enough case for paying closer attention, whether to household items or complicated humans.

Story of Things (2023).

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