Modern Love Chennai REVIEW: Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Anthology Driven To Dishy Depths By Diversity-Deets Inside

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Modern Love Chennai REVIEW: Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Anthology Driven To Dishy Depths By Diversity-Deets Inside
There are  so many voices, so many characters jostling to make their presence  felt, it sometimes feels like  a carnival of unvarnished  emotions toppling over with anxiety and excitement. The six stories in this  followup anthology to Modern Love Mumbai  and  Modern Love Hyderabad  do not  convey the  flavor of the  city as  strongly as  the  other two. But there you have it: a love anthology where,for a change, the city doesn’t define  the  characters, but the other way around.

Many of the stories especially the last one  Ninaivo Oru Paravai overstay their welcome. There is just this  much we can take of these hybridized love birds as  they negotiate problems as diverse as teen crush to degenerative blindness , all with assuaging  background scores  reminding us that love  during times  of stress can only be defined  by the strings played  in the  background.

I wait for the  day when Indian cinema,especially  stories from real relatable situations  such as  these, would do away with the background score and let the audience figure  out the  emotions on  their own. In the meanwhile  savour the delicate delineation of first  love in “Margazhi” directed by Akshay Sundher. The pretty and  expressive  newcomer Sanjula Sarathi plays  Jasmine, a young teenager  discovering the first flush of a crush. The  storytelling in unremarkable. Intentional or not, it works for the  theme of virginal love. In “Imaigal” directed by Balaji Sakthivel, a couple negotiates  its way through  courtship marriage, parenthood as  the girl goes gradually blind. This is one of my favourite episodes in the anthology, with many a moving moment and one glaring  continuity flaw when the semi-blind mother says she  moved  out of the room for a minute when her  child was injured: she  did not move.



In the over-saturated “Kaadhal Enbadhu Kannula Heart Irukkura Emoji” directed by Krishnakumar Ramakumar,Mallika(Ritu Kumar) is a mix of gamine  and  glutton as her insatiable  appetite for  love experiences  lands her on the wrong side of  the bed repreatedly.In a rain-drenched heartbreak sequence she sees the love of her life kissing another woman in a car park.Somehow, the  gravity of the moment is  squandered  in  chic shrieks of  sardonicism. Here Mallika’s movie-addled brain is held responsible for her  troubles. Finally she marries a man who shows her how to dance in the rain without music,a nirvanic state  of sexual and emotional  release on a  par with a movie without background music.

In “Lalagunda Bommaigal” directed by Rajumurugan,Shoba(Sri Gouri Priya) drinks  and rants  and  falls in  love with a North Indian paani puri seller.There is  no telling about tastes, and I am not referring  to the pani-puri.Finally she  finds the  love of her  life in wacky godman . But not  before swigs of alcohol and  a dance of celebration that suggest heartbreak to be a terrific trigger for unruly  behaviour.

In  “Paravai Kootil Vaazhum Maangal” directed by the redoubtable Bharathiraja,a  man happily married  with  two lovely children, falls for a divorcee whom he  befriends on a local train(Meryl  and de Niro  did it in  Falling In Love), brings her home for a pacifying confrontation with his wife who  conveniently turns out to be  an absolutely doormatish angel. Wife  and Girlfriend  eat talk share silences  over  an evening while the man shuffles around uneasily . Frankly, I found this story embarrassing in  its regressive approval of extra-marital associations. Have your affair if you like.  But how can you bring the new woman home to meet the wife?

The  most exasperating story is  “Ninaivo Oru Paravai” directed by Thiagarajan Kumararaja where Wamiqa Gabbi, who is rapidly becoming typecast as the  modernday Rehana Sultan, breaks up with her boyfriend after  multiple sessions of  mind blowing orgasms. The ex-boyfriend loses his  memory and Wamiqa’s character Sam must  nudge his memory awake with a series  of  relationship-defining memories. At  a playing time of  more than one hour this story slithers  forward with  no  thought for pace and grace.

Happily the other stories are gently told and  mostly a pleasure to behold.







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