Director: Dwarakh Raja
Cast: Dhruvva, Venba
Dwarakh Raja’s Kadhal Kasakuthaiya (Love Is Bitter) opens with a statement: “Tall guys and short girls make the cutest couples.” Whose words of wisdom are these? The answer arrives in an instant: “stolen from Facebook.” The warning signs couldn’t be clearer. We are in a “youth”-skewing romance. The tall guy is Arjun (Dhruvva). The short girl is Diya (Venba). When Arjun cites the height difference as a reason this relationship won’t work out, I was reminded of Thoongathey Thambi Thoongathey, where Kamal Haasan expressed similar reservations to Sulakshana. Her comeback is unbeatable. “Amitabh Bachchan is so tall, Jaya Bhaduri so short. Aren’t they married?”
There’s another similarity. Kadhal Kasakuthaiya joins the older film in the small subset of stalking-induced romances where the woman is in relentless pursuit of the man who says no. Venba sees Arjun smoking two cigarettes at the same time. For some reason, she’s smitten. It’s love at first… light. Sorry, couldn’t resist. She thinks they are a perfect… match. Sorry again. But there’s a hitch, and it’s not just that he’s not into her. She’s a 17-year-old schoolgirl. He’s 25. The lines of a song go, “I am a Complan boy / You are a Cerelac girl.” Even the wordplay, apparently, is smokin’. Someone says “Made in China” when what he means is “Made for each other.”
The film is impossible to take seriously. It’s not just the scrappy making, or the equally scrappy performances. Do young people really talk like this? Or is it just male filmmakers projecting their fantasies onto the big screen?
The premise is not without interest. As in any self-respecting love story, there are obstacles: the girl’s father (Charlie), the boy’s friends who cannot handle this union, a schoolboy with a crush on Diya. But it’s more interesting that she’s a bad student and her attraction to Arjun has to do with his average looks. Arjun comes with baggage too: his mother (Kalpana), who keeps slipping in and out of a coma (understandable, given the goings-on around her). In one of her lucid moments, she says she was married when she was Diya’s age. And Diya’s father says, when we teach reproduction in the tenth standard, why do we assume teenagers cannot make up their minds about love a couple of years later?
I’m not sure the argument makes sense, but at least, it would have been interesting to explore. But the film is impossible to take seriously. It’s not just the scrappy making, or the equally scrappy performances. It’s scenes like the one where Arjun, when he develops an interest in Diya, asks her, “Vayasukku vandhuttiya?” (Have you come of age?) Or the scene where she tells him, “Naan sumaarana figure.” (I am no great looker.) Do young people really talk like this? I am not trying to be superior. I am genuinely curious, for in film after film, we are asked to buy this lingo. Or is it just male filmmakers projecting their fantasies onto the big screen? These thoughts gave me more to chew on than the movie.