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Five times Tamil films did not get romantic relationships right

Films have always confused love with many things like stalking, envy, saviourship, and so on. Here are five Tamil films that did not get romance right in 2022.

How did Tamil cinema portray love on screen in 2022? Quite poorly, one could say. Of course, there were a countable number of films that beautifully showcased the essence of romantic relationships, but most of them staggered with the theme.Year after year, we see how a major chunk of the Tamil film industry has been mishandling the concept of romance. From the glorification of stalking to the “soup” song culture, the representation of romance and romantic relationships have been a slippery slope. Here is a list of Tamil films from 2022 that confused romance with several other things:

Love Today 

This film had to be the first on the list because it was loved and appreciated by many for all the wrong reasons. Love Today, directed by Pradeep Ranganathan, also has him playing the male lead. The story revolves around a heterosexual couple who exchange their phones for a day on the advice of the girl’s father and unexpectedly open a can of worms in the form of text messages from exes, adult WhatsApp groups, and fake Instagram accounts. 

Love Today tries hard to reflect on themes like trust, modern relationships, body shaming, and the like but ended up contradicting itself in the process. It also infantilises the female characters, something that Tamil cinema and mainstream cinema as a whole has been doing for ages now. The heroine in the film does not fall into the loosu ponnu prototype, but we cannot call it progress. The director’s attempt to explore an ideal modern relationship is ousted by instances of problematic behaviour by the male protagonist – like him turning into a ‘neighbour aunty’ and policing his girlfriend into pinning her saree in place. Such sequences were either glorified or turned into comedy in the film. The idea of consent in a relationship is also grossly misrepresented – when the hero tries to kiss the heroine she covers her mouth with her palm, each time. 

Love Today assumes that romantic relationships today are corny, with a very shallow, misguided idea of identity and mutuality. Love Today, sadly, is nothing like what love can beautifully be today.

Read: Love Today: Why Pradeep’s film needs to be called out for normalising sexism

Kaathuvakula Rendu Kaadhal (KRK) 

Directed by Vignesh Shivan, this Nayanthara-Samantha-Vijaysethupathi starter prompts is the story of a man who is unlucky in life until he meets two women who fall in love with him at the same time. The film is progressive enough to speak about polyamory, but it stigmatises the word “sex”. The polyamorous relationship in the film does not offer anything new. The only difference between the 1987 Tamil film Rettaivaal Kuruvi and KRK is that in the former, the trio unite, but in the latter, they don’t. In this romcom, romance happens for the hero in the first half of the film when he is not manipulating the two women (which he constantly is) and when the two women are not fighting with each other or teaming up and fighting with the hero. The director’s attempt to normalise an issue of taboo like polyamory fails miserably when the two women are shown fighting for the man. Although the romance between Vijaysethupathi, Nayanthara, and Samantha individually was likeable, the film lacks depth in portraying romantic relationships in general. 

Read: Kaathuvakula Rendu Kaadhal review: Two women love a man who is not worth fighting for

Also read: Why Nayanthara and Samantha should have ended up together in Kaathuvaakula


In this year’s list of Tamil films that failed the sexy lamp test, the Vijay starrer Beast finds its place comfortably. The sexy lamp test is an experiment to gauge the relevance of a female character in the plot. If you take the female character out of the film and replace her with a sexy lamp and the plot still moves forward with no impact, then the film has failed the test. 

In Beast, a film about an ex-RAW agent dealing with trauma and fighting against mall hijackers, even if Pooja Hegde catches our eyes with her moves in the viral ‘Arabic Kuthu’, her absence in the rest of the film would not have affected the plot at all. The romance in the film is painfully plastic – the woman, who is upset with her fiance, asks out a stranger (who happens to be the hero), who she meets a few minutes earlier at a wedding. The hero also says that he does not mind dating her and thus begins a ‘relationship’. In this film about a mall hijack, the role of the woman as the love interest of the hero is hardly justified. Although the actress is convincing as the cute, insecure, but supportive new girlfriend of the hero, her identity in the film had only that dimension. This makes her character and the romantic relationship shallow, to put it mildly. 

Read: Beast review: Vijay is leaner, meaner, stronger. The film isn’t.

Vendhu Thaninthathu Kaadu (VTK) 

Tamil cinema has always struggled to unlink stalking from romance, and the Simbu starrer Vendhu Thaninthathu Kaadu is no exception. Directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon, VTK is the story of a young boy from a village in Tamil Nadu whose circumstances force him to move to Mumbai for a job. In a whirlwind of incidents, he lands up as security personnel for a goon in the city and slowly rises to power. Although a young Simbu who works at a Tamil eatery in Mumbai innocently saying “I will cook chicken curry and parotta for you” to the heroine is cute, it happens through stalking.

After persistently stalking the woman he loves, the hero goes missing unannounced. Months later, he visits the woman on the balcony of her house. She treats him like a stranger and asks him why she should trust him. Before her sensibility makes us let out a sigh, she vulnerably explains her life problems to him. The hero’s saviour complex starts kicking in, but he vanishes again, and after ten days, meets the woman unexpectedly at a hotel where her boss forces her to be present. “If I don’t get my salary, my father would sell me”, she says. She also adds that she would deal with this by herself as she cannot trust him because of his episodic absence in previous times. Obviously, the hero bashes the boss up in the hotel room. A scene later, he visits the woman’s house and tells her father that he wants to marry his daughter in exchange for money. At this point, we are tired of the woman acting like she is standing up for herself but also succumbing wilfully. While it is normal that couples fail to acknowledge the unhealthy transactions in a relationship, what VTK normalises is the problematic predicament of a woman choosing to violate her own agency while believing that this is how love works out.

Read: Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu review: Gautham Menon returns to form in Simbu gangster film

Hey Sinamika 

This Dulquer Salmaan, Aditi Rao Hydari, and Kajal Agarwal starrer directed by Brinda Gopal received an underwhelming response from the audience. Dulquer Salmaan and Aditi Rao fall in love with each other and get married even before we start getting to know them as acouple. Soon, Dulquer’s excessively loving and chatty personality irritates Aditi and she devises a plan to separate from him by making him fall in love with another woman – a psychologist (played by Kajal).

In its attempt to portray modern relationships, the film fails at holding its characters accountable. While it is incredible to see a psychologist/relationship counsellor in a Tamil film about interpersonal issues, the excitement dies down ten minutes after, when she agrees to seduce a man in order to separate him from his divorce-thirsty wife. No couple therapy, no opening up, no discussion of problematic behaiour, just seduction. The stereotype-breaking characterisation of the male lead being a home maker also goes right into the trash when he becomes more attractive to his wife after he finds a job, gets busy, finds a world outside his house, and spends less time with her. 

Hey Sinamika also banks on the same old phenomenon of two women fighting over a man. The women erratically falling in and out of love with the man was also something that seemed inorganic. Even if the film ends on a positive note by saying that one must accept their partner for who they are, there was no scene that showed the couple discussing the root of their problems. Is Dulquer going to be his chatty self? Does Aditi want space or does she like an overly affectionate Dulquer? We will never know. 

Read: Dulquer-Aditi’s Hey Sinamika is a breezy rom-com with an inconsistent screenplay
Also read: Tamil cinema’s misrepresentation of therapists & mental health is harming real people

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