Closer home, in Malayalam films, the obvious names when it comes to this list are Mammooty's Thevalliparambil Joseph Alex IAS in The King, Mohanlal's Poovalli Induchoodan from Narasimham, Suresh Gopi's Bharathchandran I.P.S. and other such blockbuster characters. To survive a day with any of them, especially during a pandemic, would certainly add to the emotional trauma.
"Shammi hero ada hero (I am the hero)!" It took just this one dialogue from Fahadh Faasil in Kumbalangi Nights for us to notice the toxic masculinity being hailed all along as 'heroism'. Shammi has mental health issues, but even if you set that aside, he had a generous amount of patriarchy and male chauvinism oozing off him, just like the characters mentioned earlier.
In the last decade, we've had more realistic and 'imperfect' heroes. The ones who don't speak Shashi Tharoor-style English to prove a point, the boys-next-door and the brats with their heart in the right place. Mohanlal's Georgekutty in Drishyam, Mammooty's Louis Pothen in Puthiya Niyamam, Nivin Pauly's Naveen in Mili, and Tovino Thomas' Anjaneya Das in Godha and Vishal Rajashekharan in Uyare, gave us millennial standards of heroes and, in turn, new standards on how one's partner should be. But here's a list of flawed characters who mesmerised us into believing they are indeed knights in shining armor.
Mathan? The sweet charmer who didn't give up on Apu in spite of her shooing him away. The irresistible boyfriend with an invisible halo. If he isn't an ideal lover, then who is? Mathan, like Apu says, is a 'payyan'. Payyans do grow up to become responsible men and Mathan's love for Apu is eternal, but there's something about him that just doesn't make the cut.
Apu walks away from her perfect lover because he cheats her of money. That could be justified as innocent payyans making mistakes. But when he later meets her after accidentally killing a cop, Mathan doesn't confide in Apu. He may have been apprehensive of her reaction or simply afraid, but isn't honesty the key basic to any long standing relationship?
Mayaanadhi reflected the fact that while true love is eternal, not all lovers would make for great partners.
How many Charlies out there? Plenty, I suppose. But how many Tessas? One or none! Charlie was an enigma, the artist who touched a lot of lives and left a mark wherever he went. His elusiveness added an aura of mystery to his persona, making him the 'jinn.' Charlie thrived on other's happiness and such people are precious. While you'd not want to miss out on all that preciousness, let's pause a bit.
Tessa's grit and resolve to chase her hippie crush from Ernakulam to Meesapulimala and, finally, the crowded Thrissur Pooram was wow! But, remember the last shot in the film? What would've happened after that; specifically, what would happen if you were to go into lockdown with Charlie? Even the most homebound of us has our mood tsunamis in full swing these days. Charlie would, initially, undoubtedly make heaven of the place, but to stay put for over 70 days is surely not his forte. Charlie needs to fly and having his wings clipped would be the last thing he wants. After the initial few days, wouldn't Charlie set out on foot, to explore places unknown? And if that's the case, will Tessa be able to keep up in such uncertain times?
To be enthralled and fascinated by such a person is one thing, but to have him as a partner is another book altogether. What would a sequel to Charlie be like?
Sometime into the film, Shobha's (Nayanthara) father asks her, "Enalum nee enthu kandittanu avane snehichathu (What made you fall for him)?" Exactly! We're all for flawed characters but LAD took it to a whole other level.
Dinesh is an alcoholic who disrespects everyone around him and verbally bashes his lover. He has nothing going for him except a whole lot of family wealth. He also acts like a borderline psychopath (portrayed as a heart-broken lover) and tries to stop his one-sided crush's wedding. At the same wedding, when he begins eyeing Shobha and ends up stalking her all the way to Chennai, it is a classic WTF situation. Even if one were to marry for money, marrying Dinesh would be suicidal. So when the independent, disciplined Shobha forgives his 'inferiority complex' and chooses him as Mr. Husband, it is a lesson that, "Even if your love is blind, it should never be dumb."
Shane Nigam's Sachi is the perfect example of how one could be lured into thinking 'he's the man' and be totally bewildered when he showcases machismo. Sachi loves Vasudha and does everything in his limited capacity to protect her from moral policing. But when he questions her if she's been 'touched', you know that he's the neatly packaged, millennial version of a male chauvinist. Not to mention his happiness when he knows Vasudha is still 'pure'. It is one thing to be happy that she is safe, but heaving a sigh of relief to satiate his idea of 'purity' is creepy AF. Vasudha's reaction in the final shot of the film sums up mine as well.
Let's set handsome Prithviraj aside and imagine that one's given personal protection by an oversmart, over-the-top Mr. Know it all. He's a brat, a goon and an irritating show-off. Surya thinks it is cool to take the law into his own hands, and pretend to be a police officer. Would you appreciate him? Nope. But Ashwathy (Shreya Saran) falls head-over-heels for Surya (Prithviraj). Why? How? No questions asked, but one thing is for sure, you don't want to meet this handsome 'hero' to be your hero.
Why do I feel that only Sona 'da' can tolerate this superficial, boisterous person? Aby was nosy, snooty, loud and insensitive. He had all those traits that would easily tell one to keep him at arm's length. In a hypothetical world, Sona and Aby would still be exchanging everything. Sitting besides each other, they'd still be as loud as loudspeakers. They'd also be bossing around everyone from their domestic help and the driver to their kids as well. Isolating oneself at home seems a happening option if you consider a lockdown with Aby!