‘I Hate You - I Love You’ Is A Charming Take On Messy Conflicts In Relationships
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It’s actually fun to watch couples verbally rip into each other in the Tamil web series I Hate You – I Love You which explores their affection through the arguments they have. In a typical romantic narrative, conflict is a roadblock that a couple has to overcome before resolution. But in I Hate You – I Love You, conflict is the subject.

Each of the five episodes in the anthology series zooms in on a single event from a couple’s relationship. In ten minutes or so we get a sharp and economical portrayal of an argument followed by a clever resolution. The episodes are often intelligent and always amusing.

In the first episode, Alarm, insecurity is the root cause for conflict; it’s a possible baby in Searching, jealousy in Unfollow, mansplaining in License, and social media trolling in Password. But the couples don’t know that. They’re busy squabbling about inconsequentials, and it prevents them from really hearing each other.

Alarm

Writer and director: Vignesh Raja

Alarm sets the tone and format of the series. It single-mindedly follows an argument between Rahul (Kanna Ravi) and Sneha (Gayathri Shankar). On a holiday, they have an intricate argument, each blaming the other for not organising the trip right.

He tries to pacify her when she is brushing; she spits, just as he tells her that he was only trying to surprise her. It’s not a conversation that’s going well. She borrows his phone to set the alarm and it blows up, again, into an argument. Any attempt by either to make things better is only making them worse. They’re not arguing to resolve anything. They’re simply working off pent up annoyances.

But a clever resolution does come, both for the deeper problem of Sneha’s insecurity and for the petty matter they were arguing about: which tone to use for the alarm?

Searching

Writer and director: Shree Karthick

In Searching, Vishnu (Dev) and Shruthi (Vidya Pradeep) are frantically looking for something, both physically and verbally. As they search (we do not know what for yet) making sure not to wake their sleeping baby, the space around them mirrors the progress of their argument.

 

They wander all over the house, continuing to cut into each other’s arguments. They don’t stop even when they’re in the baby’s room; but they argue in whispers now (both because of the sleeping baby and because they’re getting tired). They look under the bed, the last place they can possibly look, before getting exhausted by both the search and the argument.

Like in Alarm, we get very little information about the couple. Their names barely register. But the dialogues give us — in tantalizing snippets — all the information we need to feel invested in them.

Unfollow

Writer and director: Vinayak Vaithianathan

 

With Unfollow, you begin to feel the tedium of beginning with an argument and ending with an inventive resolution. There is a variation here, though, as both Shalini (Samyuktha Viswanathan) and Varun (Sacchin) go to a dark place during their argument (Alarm and Searching kept it light). This complication means that Unfollow is also the longest episode, and it feels long. The snappy repartee, like in Alarm or Searching, is present (like when Shalini explains why she accepted a co-worker’s Instagram request), but these moments are rarer

Unfollow has probably the most satisfying resolution in the series because you might be surprised by both where the couple are located and how the conflict is resolved.

License

Writer and director: Vignesh Raja

Think of it as an inverse of Searching where a couple searches for something together; here, each one pulls in opposite directions. In License, Kaushik (Vinay) is driving and Kavya (Teju Ashwini) is giving directions. They know where they want to go, but Kaushik thinks Kavya’s directions aren’t helping them get there. They swap roles, and with the same results, especially because Kaushik is a massive mansplainer.

 

Just as in Alarm, dialogues by Vignesh Raja sparkle. It’s impossible to take sides. There’s always a minor reveal about Kaushik or Kavya around the corner that forces you to reevaluate what you thought of them.

Password

Writer and director: Shree Karthick

Password doesn’t comfortably fit in the series. It does begin with an argument and end with an unexpected resolution. But the kind of argument that the couple has is very different. Pallavi (Sanjana) is on the phone with the boyfriend she has just broken up with. Their conversation, especially after the ones in earlier episodes, is a bit tame.

 

The couple don’t really have a problem with each other. Pallavi has broken up because of something that happened on social media. The emotions behind her decision are less universal, and we needed to know more about her to understand that her insecurity is real.

Though it’s tonally different from the other episodes, the series comes a full circle because the cause of conflict in both Alarm and Password is insecurity.

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