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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 July 2024

Modern Love Chennai blurs the line between reality and fiction with six stories on romance

Helmed by Thiagarajan Kumararaja, the series stars Wamiqa Gabbi, Ashok Selvan, Ritu Varma, Kishore, Remya Nambeesan, TJ Bhanu and Vasundhara

Saikat Chakraborty Calcutta Published 29.05.23, 01:58 PM
Stills from Lalagunda Bommaigal, Imaigal, Kaadhal Enbadhu Kannula Heart Irukkura Emoji, Margazhi, Paravai Kootil Vaazhum Maangal and Ninaivo Oru Paravai episodes of Modern Love Chennai

Stills from Lalagunda Bommaigal, Imaigal, Kaadhal Enbadhu Kannula Heart Irukkura Emoji, Margazhi, Paravai Kootil Vaazhum Maangal and Ninaivo Oru Paravai episodes of Modern Love Chennai Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video’s Modern Love: Chennai is an adaptation of a collection of essays published in The New York Times, transposed to the Tamil landscape by filmmaker Thiagarajan Kumararaja.

While the series does not show the city as a prime mover in its stories, unlike the Mumbai and Hyderabad anthologies, Chennai makes its presence felt through its architecture, local culture and the bustling culinary scene on the shores of Bay of Bengal.

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The six shorts, written by Balaji Tharaneetharan, Rajumurugan, Reshma Ghatala, Pratheep Kumar S and Thiagarajan Kumararaja, chronicle the love stories of individuals from various age groups and socio-economic backgrounds living in different parts of Chennai.

Lalagunda Bommaigal

This sardonic love story helmed by Rajumurugan follows Shoba (Sri Gouri Priya), a sharp-tongued young woman working in a biscuit factory. When we meet Shoba, she’s in the hospital bed after an abortion, heartbroken and seething in anger after being deceived by the man she loved. A godman predicts she will fall in love again and settle down with a man from the north; however, the man will be a crook.

Over time Shoba is wooed by Nathuram (Vasudevan Murali), a panipuri seller from North India. And it’s heartbreak yet again, only this time she doesn’t shut herself off from the world. Composer Sean Roldan’s quirky music amplifies the atmosphere in this episode.

Imaigal

In Balaji Sakthivel’s Imaigal, Devi (TJ Bhanu) tells her boyfriend Nithiyanandham (Ashok Selvan) that she will lose her sight in a few years because of a degenerative eye illness, and she assumes he will leave her. But Nithiya vows to be by her side and marries her. Within a few years though, Devi’s world narrows down to doing housework and caring for their daughter, and Nithiya, despite being very loyal to his wife, has forgotten to give her the support she needs. TJ Bhanu delivers an earnest performance as a woman trapped between the fear of losing her vision and the grind of daily chores.

Kaadhal Enbadhu Kannula Heart Irukkura Emoji

Helmed by Krishnakumar Ramakumar, Kaadhal Enbadhu Kannula Heart Irukkura Emoji takes a look at how the larger-than-life romance portrayed in cinema distorts one’s notion of romantic love. Mallika (Ritu Varma) is a cinema-obsessed kid growing up in the ’90s who wants to find her own ‘grand love story’.

As she navigates a school crush, heartbreak in college and the world of online dating, immersed in Ilayaraja’s soulful music, Malika begins to wonder if anyone could ever become the dreamboats that Alaipayuthey’s R. Madhavan and Titanic’s Leonardo DiCaprio are shown to be. The short ends with Malika dancing with her new husband in the rain, without worrying about the film music playing in her head.

Margazhi

Akshay Sunder-directed Margazhi is also about young love, but this film examines the lasting impact of the first flush of love on an impressionable mind. Teenager Jazmine (Sanjula Sarathi), who lives with her recently divorced father (Srikrishna Dayal), meets Milton (Chu Khoy Sheng) in her choir class at the local church. Milton is a Delhiite who’s here to spend his winter holidays with his grandmother.

Jazmine begins to fantasise about Milton and then falls in love with him despite knowing that he’ll be gone at the end of his vacation. Listening to an Ilaiyaraaja song helps Jazmine deal with the void left by her mother’s sudden absence as well as the impending parting from Milton. Margazhi begins with a divorce and ends with the stirrings of first love.

Paravai Kootil Vaazhum Maangal

Bharathiraja’s Paravai Kootil Vaazhum Maangal tracks Ravi (Kishore), a middle-aged man with kids who wants to leave his wife after falling in love with another woman. So, Ravi, his wife Revathy (Remya Nambeesan) and Rohini (Vijayalakshmi), the woman he has fallen for, decide to talk things through to see how they can jointly arrive at a solution that will have a minimum effect on the children.

Even though it is about an affair that wrecks a family, the short does not take sides or justify the outcome. It stays true to depicting life’s harsh realities with understanding and care. For instance, Revathy recalls the first time she met Ravi on a bus with happiness in the final scene while returning to her office by bus after a weekend spent with her children, her former husband and his new companion.

Ninaivo Oru Paravai

Directed by Thiagarajan Kumararaja, Ninaivo Oru Paravai focuses on a young couple in the final moments of their relationship. K (PK) and Sam (Wamiqa Gabbi) have sex for one last time before they call it quits.

Months later, we see Sam heartbroken and struggling to move post-breakup, while K has partial memory loss after an accident and only remembers being in a relationship with Sam.

K’s sister asks Sam to help K get back his memories, and she agrees despite being warned by her counsellor. With a dreamy quality due to its scarlet and blue colour palette, Ninaivo Oru Paravai is a modern love story rather than a love story set in modern times. Casual relationships, abandonment due to job priorities and mental health are its main themes.

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