VTV : Though Nothing Falls Into Place
We always try to make a choice or take a decision that won’t put us in regret in future. But, we also know that that can’t be the case all the time. All of a sudden, life throws us something that means the most to us. It can be anything, varying from person to person. We feel like chasing it, not really applying any sense on it or at least we can’t help doing so. We just start going for it, choosing comfort over certainty & rationale, and the rest is up to destiny. We get to see only that kind of destiny in the 2010 released epic romance drama Vinnaithandi Varuvaya, written and directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon; musically defined further by A. R. Rahman; starring Simbu and Trisha.
Karthik, a young aspiring film maker falls for a girl Jessie who belongs to an orthodox Christian family. Jessie, who initially appears reluctant in accepting Karthik’s proposal with regard to her family’s nature, later expresses her desire for Karthik when he is seen mad enough about her to come all his way to Kerala just to say sorry. When her family gets to know about their relationship, things start to get bitter that extends to the extreme: Jessie’s parents deciding marriage for her with someone else. Beyond the family pressure, Jessie dares to say No to the marriage surprisingly a minute before wedlock happens and that rekindles Karthik’s love for her more than before. Amid all the chances of being caught,they manage to go out, eat out and spend time with each other, getting intimate more and more over time. Karthik one day finds his stepping stone for his film career that requires him to be out of town for more than a month. Not being able to bear family’s pressure, Jessie decides to elope with Karthik but couldn’t proceed with that, for Karthik is stuck out of town. With her dream life starting to lose all its light, couple of days later, though Karthik finds his way to meet Jessie, she comes to him only to say that she is no more for him, with so much of tear and trauma. Two years later, the Jessie-less Karthik meets the married Jessie abroad, where Jessie gets to know that he has become a film maker and still remains single living with her memories. Finally, the ex-lovers are seen feeling stifled even to think of a life together and they just end up in a phase with a maximum freedom of Jessie watching Karthik’s film ‘Jessie’ at its first day release, wondering to Karthik if she is really as good as she is shown on screen.
Unlike other love films:
VTV deserves to be called the best and balanced love script ever written in Tamil cinema, where one can empathize the heaviness of Karthik’s loss at its max while not hating Jessie as well. Except very few classics, if we think of any typical love story with a negative ending, only either of these two things would’ve been discussed: a) How a society or a family becomes the reason for lovers to not be able to unite; b) Despite favorable situation, how the boy or the girl disappoints the partner, leaving them to suffer for the rest of life. But VTV doesn’t fall under either of the kinds. It is subtly exceptional in terms of the idea it revolves around and the depth it explores about it. Joseph, Jessie’s father, is expected to keep aside all his religious reality that he has been practising for his life time and accept someone whom he never even dreamt of accepting. Of course, Karthik personally is not so religious and even if he is of that kind, he would keep aside anything for Jessie . But still, seeing through a very neutral lens without any eye for community, we can understand that it is so much to expect such a broad mind from a man (Joseph) of that sort. Meanwhile, the blame cannot be passed to Jessie as well for not holding on to Karthik beyond everything, and we have got lot many reasons for that too.
Who is Jessie?
Jessie is someone who is inexpressive; hates to lie; hates to hurt anyone; longs for freedom but never dares to afford it, being afraid that it might hurt the elders; never gets awkward even when angry, for she is spontaneously elite; never likes to put anyone uncomfortable, nor does she like to be uncomfortable. Her behaviours are never definite. Even when she is with Karthik, only one half is available for Karthik, whereas subconsciously her other half would be busy worrying about her hopeless future with him, which is also a concern out of love. She is the most inconsistent girl one can ever see, whose convictions and behaviour never agree with each other often. Ironically, whenever she puts Karthik in an uncomfortable situation she feels bad as much as Karthik does, which is evident in her voice-over that runs along. And even the whole song Mannipaaya is a dedicated space where she heartily apologizes to Karthik for being inconsistent and unreliable in saying Yes for a permanent future with him: “Oru naal sirithen marunaal veruthen, unai naan kollamal kondru pudhaithene mannipaaya”.
Judging from that one break up call, one can’t think that she will never choose Karthik over her parents, and yes we got proofs too. If Karthik is crazy enough to come all his way to Kerala just to say sorry, then Jessie is in no way lesser, for she goes one step ahead and topples up the whole marriage in front of everyone for his only love Karthik. She decides to elope with him when she is suffocated with constant marriage pressure. To be with Karthik, she lies to her parents as frequently as it takes which is indeed a struggle for a girl of that sort. In fact, Jessie loves Karthik as much as Karthik loves her, but she just names things differently. In the beginning, she doesn’t let Karthik even to follow her, but under the tag of friendship, she gets comfortable enough to ask why he loves her. She lets him kiss her but gets nastier after coming back to sense a day later. What is more fun is, she says to Karthik himself that she wants to be with him but not at the risk of being seen as lovers by her parents. To further define it, all she wants is the togetherness without naming it as love so that no one loses their happiness. And I can sense your question. How long does Jessie think it works fine this way? Well, no idea. That’s where her character naturally gets concluded in an imperfect fashion. In short, Jessie is a butterfly, who appears available but flies away if Karthik tries to catch her. A butterfly is best celebrated only when watched and not chased, and so is Jessie to Karthik. But is this the Jessie, Karthik enduringly remains mad at?
So, who is Karthik?
Karthik is quite raw, rational, expressive, assertive, brave; does only what he loves; remains as original as possible; not really sentimental and a guy with self-respect. The only thing he doesn’t have control over is his madness for Jessie. And he himself sounds helpless with an echo of regret throughout the film: Amongst so many girls around the world, why did I fall for Jessie? Because Jessie is the combination of an angel whom he is mad at to the sky and a woman who is self-deceiving, complicating, often in dilemma, stuck within, and above all, she hates reality. And not just his ethnic background but also his passion for cinema plays role in jeopardizing his chance of being accepted by her parents. And as Karthik himself calls his feeling for Jessie as madness, there’s nothing to dig further into it. But what about Jessie?
Why does Karthik mean a lot to her?
Jessie finds a personal freedom while being with Karthik. He loves her as she is, celebrating her imperfections too. May be, having grown up with quite many moral constraints, she finds Karthik liberating. Add to that, Karthik constantly reminds her how angelic she is. He keeps on watering her awareness of her own value. So why wouldn’t she find him her man? Being a man who knows how happy Jessie feels seeing him, he believes that he is entitled to own Jessie. And that’s right too. Imagine, a guy puts aside the corner stone of his career and comes all his way from Goa only because Jessie needs him and hears a No: a forever No. And he still calls that her foolishness but not an act of heartlessness: “Mada thanam. Adhu matum than oduchu en mandaila”. Magically, that’s how Jessie wants him to perceive that take too: “Idha na yen pannenu kekadha Karthik. Enaku vera vazhi theriala. Enaya romba veruthuratha Karthik” – Jessie’s mind voice after Karthik leaves. Unarguably, if not Karthik, who deserves to own Jessie? But he is the most deprived guy too. So, as Karthik addresses it, falling for Jessie is the most regretful yet heavenly accident that happened in his life.
He knows Jessie:
Finally, taking the park scene before Anbil Avan song in Karthik’s film, it’s not an attempt of just using film freedom to have a positive climax. Rather, he knows that Jessie is a girl who is pretty susceptible to be carried away with emotions she faces and so she is best defined by the situations she got and not the decisions she took. If not then, may be if she was destined to meet Karthik after some days, she would have decided to leave her parents for him. Yeah, her core says that. So writing a fictitious climax of that sort is where he ultimately asserts to us that he knows Jessie the best.
VTV is indeed a master stroke of Gautham. Technically reasoning, the protagonist didn’t succeed in his want; no one who deprived him of his success has suffered in climax; Gautham gave us no space to comfortably blame Jessie; unlike his other films, the writer didn’t satisfy us romanticizing the film by introducing a second start with another girl. It is just an attempt of showing how life can introduce a very simple event in your life, take turn like never before; let you meet people; put you all in situations; and show how you and they unfold to each other. VTV, for me, complies with Murphy’s law: ‘Whatever can happen, will happen‘. Also, I am reminded of a dialogue from the movie ‘Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ uttered by a character while dying.
“You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went.
You could swear, curse the fates.
But when it comes to the end, you have to let go.”
I still wonder, despite having an emotional connect with such a past, how Gautham thrived creating it into a successful work of fiction that extracts meaning out of meaninglessness. We owe an applause of gratitude to him, for he gave us a story of love failure but never made us feel bad about love. Until the last frame, there was just celebration of love.
Thank you Gautham
– Javith Razvi