Regardless of the genre, every film carries a whiff of romance within itself. It could range from a passing mention to a realistic subplot. Love, a familiar and relatable feeling, essentially remains an indispensable part of life and living. From time immemorial, cinema has successfully showcased this deeply personal and enriching experience we squeeze into a four-letter word called love, in a myriad of ways. I cherish the following five as each of them create and speak their own language of love, travelling beyond an "I love you".
Directed by M T Vasudevan Nair, the film gives us an adorable elderly couple in Krishna Kuruppu (Oduvil Unnikrishnan) and his wife Ammalu (Nirmala Sreenivasan). Married for a long time, their wonderful companionship shows how they have managed to stay beautifully in love all along. It is one of the most authentic depictions of love I have seen. Oru Cheru Punchiri is a toast to their everydayness, their togetherness and the everlasting love that shines through even in their trivial squabbles. Their innocence is proof that old age is indeed a second childhood. Much like Carl and Ellie Fredricksen from the movie Up, it's like they keep falling in love day after day, a love as gentle as a soft smile.
Richard Linklater's Before trilogy is the finest example of how conversations can enrich a relationship. Split into three films, in Before Sunrise we see Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet on a Euro rail journey. They come face to face after a huge gap of nine years in Before Sunset. But, for me, it is Before Midnight that truly elevates the trilogy. It wonderfully encompasses the essence of the two previous films. The aesthetic experience a Richard Linklater film provides primarily lies in the various ways he outlines the passage of time, identifying and taking us through the various stages of life. It was beautiful listening to Jesse and Celine just converse about anything and everything in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. As a long-term couple trying to cope with the responsibilities of familial life, their conversations too find a harmonious clarity in Before Midnight. "Passing through" life, searching for true love, this is probably the closest and happiest end one can envision.
"Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai, main kisi pull sa thartharata hoon" – love is that simple, that organic and somehow, feels that inevitable. Though Masaan is widely known as a well-crafted perspective about life, death and everything in between; it is so gracefully centred around love, the kind that breaks every societal constraint. Deepak (Vicky Kaushal), a civil engineering student who, along with his family, earns a living by burning funeral pyres at Harishchandra Ghat. He falls in love with an upper caste girl from a well-to-do family, our poetry-lover, Shalu (Shweta Tripathi). His story gets interwoven with Devi (Richa Chadha), a trainer at a coaching centre, who is shown to travel far from her small town for the physical intimacy she craves with a man she likes; only to face a huge mishap and eventually be thrown back into the same complex society to fight and resist. "Paat na paya meetha paani, or-chhor ki doori re", with even the holy waters of Ganga unable to bridge the gap, Masaan is essentially a journey through their respective heartbreaks. Moving towards a serene sangam, the film leaves us yearning for a new beginning for Deepak and Devi.
While secretly mourning the death of her lover, Manohar (Karthik); the strong-willed Divya (Revathi), obligated to her family, reluctantly steps into an arranged marriage with Chandrakumar (Mohan). Mani Ratnam, with ample help from P C Sreeram and Ilaiyaraaja, effortlessly takes us through this relationship as it transforms from a wry one to one of considerate love. I absolutely loved the way Chandrakumar responds and reacts to situations. In a particular scene, Divya tells him that his touch makes her feel as if bedbugs are crawling over her. Despite being hurt, he respects her space and her freedom which later aids in building up a mutual understanding and trust in the relationship. Even as a serious and strong female character, there is a childlike temperament in Divya that imbues a certain sensitivity to her obstinacy, her rebelliousness as she struggles to let go of the past. There is a tenderness to her, a passion and an honesty in her which reflects in her love too. Staying true to the title, Mounaragam moves like a silent symphony, a subtle and soul-searching one.
As someone whose go-to-love-stories usually come from Telugu films (thanks to Sekhar Kammula); K S Ashok's Dia has managed to shift my attention to Kannada cinema with it's realistic take on love. Dia (Kushee Ravi) and her boyfriend Rohit (Dheekshith Shetty) meet with an accident. While in the hospital bed, she is informed that Rohit is dead. Torn apart, a shattered Dia later meets Adi (Prithvi Ambar), who she gradually falls in love with. But she learns Rohit is alive and Adi, meanwhile, gets consumed by guilt due to his mother's death leading to an abrupt and rather unpredictable climax. What makes Dia stand apart as a love story is that it doesn't sell a fairy tale. In fact, it almost feels as if the film consciously stays away from being yet another cliched, breezy romantic tale. Rather, it becomes an all-encompassing portrayal of Dia's life, filled with countless emotions, reiterating that 'happy forevers' don't necessarily turn into a reality for all.