Modern Love Chennai review: Not groundbreaking, but interesting enough | Web Series - Hindustan Times

Modern Love Chennai review: Isn’t entirely groundbreaking, but offers an eclectic mix of stories on love and heartbreak

ByHaricharan Pudipeddi
May 18, 2023 11:02 AM IST

Modern Love Chennai review: The third Indian adaptation of the Modern Love franchise is here. It has stories that are flat, but some that speak to the heart.

Tamil cinema is slowly heading in the right direction in the OTT space, which has allowed filmmakers like Balaji Sakthivel, who has returned to direction after a decade, to truly make something that defines them. Modern Love Chennai – the six-part anthology film from Prime Video, which is adapted from the Modern Love series in The New York Times – isn’t entirely groundbreaking. It has stories that are flat, but at the same time we get some truly exceptional work from filmmakers who’ve enjoyed the freedom to truly make what they want. Also read: Modern Love Mumbai review

Modern Love Chennai began streaming from May 18.
Modern Love Chennai began streaming from May 18.

Rajumurugan’s Lalagunda Bommaigal is an interesting take on modern-day love which asks the most important question which a lot of us tend to ignore. Is modern love all about attraction, getting physical (which also includes abortion) and moving on? Centered on a young girl coping from the pain caused by heartbreak, the short’s premise is built on a very common line – don’t judge a book by its cover. In the opening shot, we meet Shoba (a terrific Sri Gouri Priya) in a hospital and she’s just undergone an abortion. A few shots later, we feel she’s moved on with great difficulty.

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However, life isn’t the same as she’s so scarred by the incident that she’s perennially angry. A local pani-puri vendor, an immigrant from the north, starts to show interest in her. Every time she comes to eat pani-puri, her friends notice that the guy actually places six puris on her plate instead of the usual four. Even before she starts to show interest, the guy turns out to be like most men and this breaks Shoba’s heart once again. Eventually, when Shoba finds a partner in a local godman turned fruit seller and finds happiness, she truly understands the essence of the proverb – ‘never judge a book by its cover’.

Returning to direct after a decade, Balaji Sakthivel’s Imaigal has to be one of the best shorts of the anthology. It’s so moving and impactful at the same time. This is a story about a young girl named Devi with a rare eye condition which will leave her completely blind in a decade or so. The short opens with the scene where Devi (TJ Bhanu) tells her boyfriend Nithya (Ashok Selvan) about her condition. She warns him that life with her isn’t going to be a bed of roses.

When they eventually get married and a few years pass by with the arrival of their daughter, the issues kick in with respect to Devi’s eye condition and it’s a challenge for her to do the simplest of tasks without messing up. The beauty of the short lies in some of the most tender moments between Devi and Nithya. This is truly a class of a comeback for Balaji Sakthivel, who gives us a story to find someone who can embrace us the way we are (including the troubles that come with us) and encourage us to become who we want.

Krishnakumar Ramakumar's Kaadhal Enbadhu Kannula Heart Irukkara Emoji is cut from the same cloth as Gautham Menon’s idea of love and romance. Everything about this short, which has to be the weakest of the lot, makes us realise that there’s no fairytale love in real life and that nobody can escape heartbreaks. Centered on a cinema-obsessed young girl who keeps waiting for her prince charming but is broken every time reality hits her. Ritu Varma is aptly cast but the short fizzles out midway and leaves you scratching you head by the end. It wants to really feel light-hearted vis-à-vis the other shorts that are more dramatic, but it’s too sweet and frothy to be likable.

Akshay Sundher’s Margazhi offers a fresh twist on the idea of modern-day love. It is centered on Jasmine (Sanjula Sarathy) and her friends, schoolgirls, openly talking about sex and it isn’t there to make any point. It’s there because girls too are interested in discussing these things as much as boys. Here’s a girl whose parents are recently separated, and how she views love when she starts to fall for a boy, played by Chu Khoy Sheng.

Veteran Bharathiraja’s Paravai Kootil Vaazhum Maangal is a sweet throwback to the kind of love stories the auteur was popular for making in his heydays. A fresh take on a love triangle, this short offers deep insight into how society can get judgmental. At the same time, here’s a short that treats the whole concept of a love triangle with a lot of maturity.

The last short of the anthology, Ninaivo Oru Paravai, from director Thiagarajan Kumararaja has to be both weird and unimaginably original. Centered on a young filmmaker K (PB) and his girlfriend Sam (an amazing Wamiqa Gabbi), the short lays its importance on physical love in a modern-day relationship. In terms of the Chennai set up, this short truly goes beyond what we usually used to associate the city with, and that’s absolutely commendable.

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