The Beatles famously crooned 'Love is all you need'- and I agree with them. Though often reluctant to admit it, I am, ultimately, a romantic at heart. This affinity for romance affects my viewing pattern, which means that I tend to turn towards it at the drop of a hat. As such, it is with much difficulty that I was able to narrow down my list to just five movies. What drove me to pick these specific films is that despite my aversion to rewatching movies, I somehow keep returning to them over and over again.
Rain and romance – can you think of a better combination? Ennu Ninte Moideen capitalises on this association that has been forged into the DNA of every Malayali through decades of cinema and music. To borrow from Kunjappan in Charlie, "Mazhayaanallo premam; Premamaanallo mazha". Based on a true story, Ennu Ninte Moideen narrates the inter-faith romance of Kanchanamala and Moideen, who loved and lost with an unwavering fierceness that seldom graces romance. Prithviraj and Parvathy lived and breathed as the star-crossed lovers, aided by M Jayachandran's brilliant soundtrack and Jomon T John's lush frames. For me, the movie painfully etches out the essence of what love is – an inexplicable sense of belonging that connects two people despite all odds, even death.
"Ulagathula evlo ponnunga irunthum na yen Jessie ah love panen?"
Haven't we all thought along similar lines about a special someone at some point in our lives? This Gautham Menon classic explored young love in all its glory, confusion and destructive beauty. Set to a hauntingly melancholic A. R. Rahman background score, VTV revolves around the ill-timed, ill-conceived romance between Karthik and Jessie, who are neighbours-turned-friends-turned-lovers. To this day, Jessie remains a frustratingly inscrutable woman to many – does she really love Karthik or does she not? But that is where the movie's beauty lies. It forces us to come to terms with the fact that sometimes, love is not as easy as reciprocity – it is also about the timing, the circumstances surrounding it and the inner workings of the two people involved. Sometimes, even if circumstances line up for a happy union of the lovers, life interjects and complicates everything. Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya captures all this and more.
If Jessie from Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya frustrated you with her indecisiveness, Fidaa might not be the movie for you. Playing on the enemies-turned-lovers trope, Fidaa centres around Bhanumathi and Varun, who are as different from each other as possible – which can only mean that they fall hard for each other. In what follows, we see them go through a mellowed down version of what VTV's Jessie and Karthik go through- a mismatch of interests and timing, a plethora of misunderstandings and miscommunications, and clashes in ego and personality. Thankfully though, Bhanu and Varun emerge from this tunnel to bask in the bright sunshine of requited love. What I enjoyed the most about the movie was the extent to which it gave its characters agency, especially Bhanu – she could be as fickle or stubborn as she wanted to be without having to explain herself. Because, at the end of the day, can we really explain why we do what we do when we are in love?
When I finished watching Lootera, I simultaneously felt an intense urge to cry unabashedly and to rewatch it immediately. Instead, I closed my eyes and let the movie sink into my skin. Yet another tale of star-crossed lovers (anyone seeing a pattern here?), Lootera follows Varun Shrivastav, a con artist, and Pakhi Roy Chowdhury, the daughter of a wealthy landlord, over the years as they fall in and out of love. Set against the backdrop of post partition West Bengal, Lootera is utterly atmospheric and immerses you deep into its world with a charm that is almost as disarming as its characters. With Sonakshi Sinha at her career-best and the surprisingly muted yet moving performance by Ranveer Singh, Lootera is a story for the ages. Oh, and did I mention that Amit Trivedi absolutely knocks it out of the park with his stunning compositions?
Is Charlie a love story? Maybe, maybe not – depends on what you look for in the movie. For me, it is. For what else but love could have driven Tessa to go on a winding, bone-tiring chase to find a guy who is best described as a djinn? Charlie is a euphoric tale that almost feels mythical- you can just imagine your grandmother, in a desperate attempt to get you to sleep, weaving this patchwork story of an eccentric do-gooder who goes on a range of eclectic out-of-the-world adventures. Yet, even with its larger-than-life portrayal of its characters, this movie has a beautiful strain of love running through its length, propelling it forward – a love that stems from the recognition of a kindred spirit in another. With a charisma that is hard to beat, Charlie ends up captivating not just Tessa's heart, but also ours.