Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

The lead pair falls in love at first sight all the time in our films. But the only memorable first meetings are those that reveal to us something about the personalities of the people, and the context in which they begin a relationship. The love-at-first-sight scene is not just about two lovers seeing each other for the first time. It is also about the viewer meeting them for the first time as lovers. We need to know how they might approach the relationship. Only when we are emotionally affected by the encounter as much as they are, do we invest in their eventual fates, and build expectations about their relationship. 

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Minnale

Director: Gautham Vasudev Menon

The scene where Rajesh (Madhavan) sees Reena (Reema Sen) for the first time is iconic. He is inside a telephone booth at night in pouring rain when he sees a girl step out of a broken-down car to play with a group of children. Both lightning and love strike suddenly when he sees her face briefly lit. The rain and the lightning make us feel that his love is somehow blessed by Nature’s forces. It helps justify his desperate attempts later,  including impersonation, to get to know her. We expect him to do impulsive things, we expect her to indulge in harmless play, and all this is established within the span of a few flashes of lightning.

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Alaipayuthey 

Director: Mani Ratnam

Sometimes, the first meeting might be a pair of scenes. Karthik (Madhavan) and Shakti (Shalini) bump into each other at a wedding. There is a bit of casual banter, and they walk away. It seems inconsequential. They meet again in a setting that is diametrically opposite. They are travelling in trains that are passing each other. Karthik and Shakthi don’t get a chance to speak, but their gazes are locked. The first meeting takes on new significance only after the second sighting.

Valentine’s Day: 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya

Director: Gautham Vasudev Menon

Is it possible to decode the course of a relationship in just how the first meeting unfolds? Karthik (Silambarasan) is languorously leaning on a gate, unsuspectingly looking at the road. Jessie (Trisha) walks into the street,  stops at his gate, speaks to him briefly, and walks on once he opens the gate for her. While all this is happening over a few seconds, he is in a romantic world of his own. Without any dialogue, you see Karthik’s surprise, joy, shock, and love.

OK Kanmani

Director: Mani Ratnam

The first meeting need not be just about the act of falling in love. Mani Ratnam in OK Kanmani uses it as a vehicle to economically give context to the viewer about the heroine, without letting the hero know. In a busy railway station, Aditya (Dulquer Salmaan) sees Taara (Nithya Menen) across a platform, seemingly breaking up with her boyfriend. When she tries to jump on the tracks, Aditya distracts her. But, just before that happens, the viewer is let in on the conversation between Taara and her boyfriend. She is mad at him for not wanting to get married. It tells us why she might not be keen on the idea of marriage, at least for a while. Aditya, who is averse to commitment, thankfully doesn’t hear any of this. 

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Bombay

Director: Mani Ratnam

Another one of Mani Ratnam’s films where the first meeting takes on deeper significance after the second. Shekar (Arvind Swami) and Shaila (Manisha Koirala) briefly see each other when her veil is blown by the wind. Being from a conservative family, she wouldn’t have had many opportunities to meet an unknown man. So, when she sees him at a wedding, she breaks into a song of yearning. For a change, it is not the hero who sings upon falling in love.  

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Kadhalukku Mariyadhai

Director: Fazil

Jeeva (Vijay) and Mini (Shalini) are wandering around in a bookstore and literally bump shoulders. They are interested in each other, but hesitate to speak and walk away. Later, they try to pick up from the shelf the last copy of a book called Love and Love Only. They both abandon it, not wanting to offend the other, until Jeeva buys it for her. The scene, in a nutshell, is also the story of the film. 

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Minsara Kanavu

Director: Rajiv Menon

Thomas (Arvind Swami) loves Priya (Kajol) and takes help from Deva (Prabhu Deva) to convince her to abandon her religious mission for romantic bliss. Deva’s first meeting begins with him trying to convince Priya to fall in love with someone, anyone, until he convinces himself that he is that person. 

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Kadhal Desam

Director: Kathir

Karthik (Vineeth) daydreams about his ideal girlfriend in his poems. Divya (Tabu) literally falls into his lap while he is sitting on the beach. This seeming banality is actually poetically set up by Kathir. The film is about how Karthik, a poor orphan, relinquishes his love for a girl, because his affluent best friend Arun (Abbas) loves her too. It is the story of a person with nothing, who gives up a gift, a miracle that fell into his lap, for the sake of friendship. 

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Ghajini

Director: AR Murugadoss

Sanjay Ramaswamy (Suriya) sees Kalpana (Asin) helping differently-abled children cross the road. When he meets her a second time, she treats him like a commoner, not knowing who he is. The rich tycoon surrounded by yes-men finds someone who treats everyone equally. He falls for her because she gives him a sense of quiet and normalcy. AR Murugadoss pulls off an Anbe Vaa here and foreshadows the meaning of Kalpana’s death for Sanjay Ramaswamy.

3

Director: Aishwarya Dhanush

Ram (Dhanush) stops to help repair Janani’s (Shruti Haasan) cycle in pouring rain. There is no subtext to it, really. But the performances by the lead pair as innocent teenagers, and the superb background score by Anirudh Ravinchander can make us nostalgic for similar episodes that we might have experienced ourselves. It is an unassumingly cute scene, where, in the end, Janani’s little sister waves Ram bye as Janani walks away without looking back. 

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Vaaranam Aayiram

Director: Gautham Vasudev Menon

Gautham gives a certain dignity to what might otherwise be construed as an episode of a man falling for the first pretty girl he sees. Surya (played by Suriya) meets Meghna (Sameera Reddy) during a train journey and instantly falls in love. There is nothing unusual about that in our movies. But, the way it is depicted modifies the meaning. Surya is reminded of his mother when he meets Meghna. And, he proposes to her the same way his father had proposed to his mother. These ideas elevate this generic love-at-first-sight scene into a exploration of how the stories we hear of our parents can shape us in something as personal as falling in love.  

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Kaadhal Koattai

Director: Agathiyan

Is there something that goes on in our minds before that chance first meeting? Do we, at some level, expect it to happen because we already feel the inkling of love inside us? Agathiyan concretises this question by intricately setting it up so that Suriya (Ajith) and Kamali (Devayani) are in love with no intention of meeting each other. In the end when they finally meet by chance, they feel none of the excitement of a romantic meeting. Instead, they feel catharsis. 

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Pisasu

Director: Mysskin

Love can be a haunting feeling. Siddharth (Naga) accidentally kills a girl in a road accident, and she falls in love with him in the throes of death. Her spirit haunts him as a way of loving him, until she finds that it is affecting him. We begin the film by experiencing a feeling of dread, and near the end we finally see the first meeting, and we experience the spirit of love behind the dread. 

Valentine’s Day 14 Ways Tamil Cinema Taught Us To Love

Kanda Naal Mudhal

Director: V Priya

Why does the first meeting have to be sweet? Krishna (Prasanna) and Ramya (Laila) are sworn enemies from childhood. Years later, when they meet each other, the intense hate they project eventually leads them to fall in love. But this is not your usual ‘opposites attract’ story, where the heroine begins to like the person she hates after he saved her from slipping over a banana peel. The hateful first meeting leads to even more hateful meetings, which eventually lead to love. Priya V upends the usual function of first meetings in our films.

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