At first, I thought I was watching an easy-breezy rom-com. A boy from Bengaluru has met a girl on an online matrimony portal. They are days away from the marriage, when she gets an offer to move to Mumbai. She also gets cold feet. The petty squabbles keep happening. For instance: Why does she have to choose a lehenga in the same colour as his suit? Why didn't he ask her what colour she wanted to wear? That sort of thing. But director Rahul PK – who wrote Sakutumba Sametha with Pooja Sudhir – is after something deeper. The film is not just about the relationship between the boy and the girl. The film is about relationships in general.
I'll give you a character, the hero’s mother. She is a housewife who runs a catering business. She also runs a parallel catering business at home, because every meal, every cup of tea someone wants – it all has to be made by her, with zero help. Plus, she has grown distant from her husband. So there's physical exhaustion (from the work) and emotional exhaustion (from the lack of love and support) – and she slowly stops caring about what she wears. Her saris are always crumpled. She forgets to change when guests arrive - though a stylish guest may make her feel a little conscious about her attire. Now, over the course of the narrative, such a character begins to find a reason to dress up again. It's a deceptively small but cuttingly deep observation about the state of a woman's mind, and the arc she traverses.
Her husband is not a bad man. But life happened, and they grew apart. There's another character who was a stay-at-home dad, with his wife earning the big bucks. I don't want to oversell this modest movie, but there is something so light and beautiful about the way the writing tackles heavy subjects. There's a house with a patchy network – you can use your phone only in particular places. It could well be a metaphor for relationships. You have to find the sweet spot. Only then will you be able to communicate. Even when the girl's mother says the boy is a good catch because he is a yes-man, it does not come from a place of malice. This woman has faced abandonment issues, and that probably is why she wants a yes-man for her daughter. You now know why I am hesitant to call this a rom-com, right? I'd rather call the film a light-hearted choreography of conflict.
Bharath GB plays the boy. Siri Ravikumar plays the girl. They are perfect. There is a class difference at work here, and the actors convey that sense of boy-next-door and girl slightly above his league. They are surrounded by a superb cast: Achyuth Kumar and Rekha Kudligi as the boy's parents, and Krishna Hebbale and Pushpa Belawadi as the girl's parents. Together, they deliver some expert commentary on relationships. For example, what if you want to get married only when you are absolutely sure you want to get married, as opposed to getting married because you are of a certain age? And what if you find someone who wants to get married ASAP?
Even inanimate objects play a part: a hand towel, tissue paper, jalebis, perfume, a door, a cupboard, cigarettes. Midhun Mukundan's gentle music is perfectly in sync with the gentle nature of this film. The writing segues are lovely. When two men are talking about a circus, someone actually descends from above them, like an acrobat. And the ending is just right – and as gentle as the rest of the film. You keep waiting for a love story between the boy and the girl and you get the love stories of their parents. So what about the boy and the girl? Is there a happily-ever-after? Or is the timing off again? All the film tells us is this: Relationships are not easy. You have to keep hunting for that sweet spot.
National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, former deputy editor of The Hindu and senior editor of Film Companion, has carved a niche for himself over the years as a powerful voice in cinema, especially the Tamil film industry, with his reviews of films. While he was pursuing his chemical engineering degree, he was fascinated with the writing and analysis of world cinema by American critics. Baradwaj completed his Master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations through scholarship. His first review was for the Hindi film Dum, published on January 30, 2003, in the Madras Plus supplement of The Economic Times. He then started critiquing Tamil films in 2014 and did a review on the film Subramaniapuram, while also debuting as a writer in the unreleased rom-com Kadhal 2 Kalyanam. Furthermore, Baradwaj has authored two books - Conversations with Mani Ratnam, 2012, and A Journey Through Indian Cinema, 2014. In 2017, he joined Film Companion South and continued to show his prowess in critiquing for the next five years garnering a wide viewership and a fan following of his own before announcing to be a part of Galatta Media in March 2022.