If you've ever been in love, questions like 'Am I ever good enough' or 'Am I too much' will be all too familiar questions. Arike is like a lesson about love that teaches us what to do and what not to do when falling in love. It talks about the fear, vulnerabilities and weaknesses that one can go through when in love, which is why it largely remains an underrated movie: human beings do not like to show their fragile side.
The movie delves into the idea of how a lot of times in our lives we fail to appreciate or notice what's right in front of us. While in most cases, it's objects that people fail to realise the worth of, in Arike, it's people. On the face of it, Arike is a simple movie. It revolves around the lives of 3 people, Anuradha, Kalpana and Shantanu, who are connected in more ways than they imagined. Shantanu, an average-looking guy, and Kalpana, a pretty girl, have been dating for a couple of years. Anuradha is Kalpana's best friend and mediator of the couple's relationship. The couple wants to get married but Kalpana's family is against Shantanu, on account of him being a non-Brahmin and holder of the not-so-glamorous job of a college lecturer. Shantanu fell in love with Kalpana because of the beautiful love letters she used to send him, but the unfortunate part here is that Shantanu doesn't know that the love letters he fell in love with were written by Anuradha.
A deeper look into the movie takes us through a journey of what love means to the three of them. Though Anuradha writes the most amazing love letters, her relationship with love ends there. She doesn't believe that true love exists in the real world, owing to her one bad heartbreak in the past. Anuradha always says 'No' to whoever has shown even the slightest interest in her. The closest she comes to acknowledging true love is that of Shantanu and Kalpana, who get separated by the end of the film. The funny thing about the trio is that while it's always two people who are part of a relationship, here it is the three of them. Being the mediator, Anuradha was closer to both Shantanu and Kalpana than the two of them were to each other.
In the case of Kalpana, nobody really understood or looked at her beyond her pretty face. Whenever the couple met, Shantanu had only words to praise her physical beauty and this framed their relationship. When Kalpana meets with an accident and scars her face, the first thing her mom and even the nurse tell her is that she will be back to being pretty again in no time, when the logical thing to say is 'thank god, you are safe'. Kalpana refuses to meet Shantanu ever again and eventually breaks up with him. To the audience, to date, Kalpana's act seems like a lame reason to dump her average-looking boyfriend for a better, richer one, when that's really not the case. She felt that Shantanu did not fall in love with this damaged version of her and hence chose to take the easier path of being an escapist. Towards the end of the film Shantanu tells Anuradha 'sherikum ulla Kalpane njanum manasilakan sremichilla' (Even I failed to understand the real Kalpana). Their relationship could've been easily salvaged had they spoken about things that really mattered, whenever they met.
When finally Shantanu realises that it was Anuradha that he may have been in love with – is it too late? The movie ends with this intriguing question. Communication is the key in love, and the three of them miserably fail in this. Arike shows that love is not a destination, but a journey on which we unlearn and relearn things about ourselves and others, for better or for worse.