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Modern Love Chennai Review: This anthology may not be all feel-good, but it's a heady concoction of some impressive power-packed stories

The anthology touches upon varied kinds and stages of love. Barring a few shorts, the series doesn't have many meet-cute encounters, but goes on to unravel the deeper layers of the idea of love.

Modern Love Chennai Review: This anthology may not be all feel-good, but it's a heady concoction of some impressive power-packed stories
A poster of Modern Love Chennai

Last Updated: 08.05 PM, May 18, 2023


Story: A teenage girl has her first brush with romance which helps her overcome the trauma from her parents' divorce. A college student suffering from degenerative retinal disorder decides to give life and love a shot. A jilted young lover finally musters up the courage to fall in love again.

A young woman experiences love in its varied hues and shades at different stages of her life. A married couple try to figure out a way to separate amicably, as they embrace a new person in their life. A young couple find deeper meaning into love and life as they explore their sexuality.

Review:  It wouldn't be an exaggeration to call Modern Love Chennai one of the most rooted and rustic among the franchise. The Chennai edition doesn't take too much time setting up the tone of the series or depicting the locales of the city, but swoops straight into the thick of action. There's no redundant scenes of filter kaapi, Napier Bridge or the railway station. The stories, too, are next-door and thus, quite grounded with the majority of the drama taking place in a lower middle-class and middle-class backdrop.

(Directed by Akshay Sundher featuring Sanjula Sarathi, Chu Khoy Sheng, and Srikrishna Dayal)

The first short of the series begins with the uplifting beats of maestro Ilaiyaraaja in a melancholic backdrop. The short mirrors the trauma of Jazmine, a teenager who is struggling hard to cope with her parents' separation. As she battles the many stages of grief, she meets Milton from her church choir. Jazmine finally takes a renewed interest in life with her first brush with romance.

Margazhi may not be a typical teenage romantic drama, but it has its heart in the right place as Jazmine goes on a journey of self-discovery through the eyes of Milton. It's refreshing to see a north east Indian face in the Tamil web space. The performances by the lead cast are nuanced. The fitting finale comes as Ilaiyaraaja's single Nenjil Oru Minnal Vilayadum plays out full throttle and takes us right back to the '80s. The heartwarming number is a treat to the ears and Ilaiyaraaja once again proves why he is the maestro.

(Directed by Balaji Sakthivel, featuring Ashok Selvan and TJ Bhanu)

 Devi, who is suffering from a retinal degenerative disease, decides to take a shot at love and life after her college mate Nithiya proposes to her. However, when her vision becomes poorer after the birth of their daughter, she struggles with her daily life. With her confidence plummeting by the day, she goes on to have a mental breakdown and all her pent-up emotions come to the fore.

One cannot help but empathise with Devi as she traverses through the excruciating phase. TJ Bhanu stands out with her stupendous performance in this short that explores the deepest dark corners of relationships and giving her apt company is Ashokselvan. The closing shot where Devi finally accepts her life for what it is, is sheer beauty in terms of visualisation. The film thrives on frustration but we are not complaining at all.

Lalagunda Bommaigal
(Directed by Rajumurugan, featuring Sri Gouri Priya, Vasundhara and Vasudevan Murali).

One ot the hysterial and cynical shorts of the series, Lalagunda Bommaigal is a showstealer. Shoba, a jilted lover, finally decides to move on from her ex and live life on her own terms. But when she meets Nathuram, a North Indian panipuri seller, love blossoms again. The episode depicts a colourful and vibrant lower-middle class locality in Chennai, where people speaking different languages live together, 'but there's no intermixing.'

Punch dialogues with a scoop of socialism are casually thrown in and are a laugh riot.In the story of paradoxes, where Shoba shifts from one stand to another, Sri Gouri and Vasudevan Murali are a charm to watch. Vasundhara, too, has the audience eating out of her hands with her effortless performance. The way she casually delivers dialogues with a punch in the Chennai accent are a must-watch, especially when she says, "When Pani is here, where would the Puri go." Sean Roldan's heavy-duty music peppers the scenes and the mood of the show. Watch out for the ultimate twist in the tale, typical Rajumurugan style!

Kaadhal Enbadhu Kannula Heart Irukkura Emoji
(Directed by Krishnakumar Ramakumar, featuring Ritu Varma, Samyuktha Viswanathan, Pawan Alex, and Aniiruth Kanakarajan)

The most breezy and light-hearted among all the episodes, this short revolves around Mallika, a sucker for romance and romantic films. The episode captures how the facets and the idea of love changes at different stages of life. With fun and awkward moments flung in ample measure, this breezy short headlined by Ritu Varma brings a smile on your face, but doesn't have anything new to offer and ends up as the weakest link in the anthology.

Paravai Kootil Vaazhum Maangal
(Directed by Bharathiraja, featuring Kishore, Ramya Nambessan, and Vijayalakshmi)

It's not often that you see Kishore taking the plunge into romance and hence, it's refreshing to see him in this avatar in the Tamil space. Here, he plays Ravi, a man struggling to keep his marriage afloat after he falls in love with another woman. Though he doesn't have many dialogues in the film, he shines during the many awkward moments as the women in his life do the talking about the future.

The premise itself is interesting as Ravi's wife Revathi (Ramya) and Rohini (Vijayalakshmi) meet each other to have the difficult conversation about the separation and the future of the children. Delhi Ganesh makes a special appearance and is excellent in the limited time he has on screen, and so are the ladies who dominate the short. Divorce hasn't been portrayed often in such a dignified manner in films and Bharathiraja proves why he is a filmmaker par excellence. The episode can be called as an ode to veteran director Balu Mahendra and aptly complementing the scenes is Ilaiyaraaja's pulsating music.

Ninaivo Oru Paravai

(Directed by Thiagarajan Kumararaja, featuring Wamiqa and PB)

The makers sure have saved the best for the last. The tone of the last and the longest short in the anthology is kept dark with a purpose. Sam and K, an aspiring actor and an aspiring filmmaker meet in a unique circumstance and hit it from the word go. There is no meet-cute here. They both seem like polar opposites but not in any moment does one feel that they do not fit together.

As the youngsters smoke up, inulge in casual sex and drinks, they have esoteric philosophical conversations that are loaded with some heavy-duty analogies. With a tinge of surrealism and abstract expressions, this short might be too deep and intense to comprehend for some. But those who do manage to decipher the goings-on, will find it the cherry on top of the pudding. While Thiagaraja Kumaraja is in his element, so are the lead actors who pull off their complex characters with ease.

The best aspect about the series is the directors have stuck to genre of expertise and have come out with flying colours.Not to forget, Ilaiyaraaja's music, which feels like a hot cup of coffee on a rainy day.

Verdict: Modern Love Chennai is an innovative attempt at telling stories with a difference. TJ Bhanu, Ramya Nambeesan, Sri Gouri Priya, Vasundhara, Kishore, Wamiqa Gabbi and K shine in the analogy. As for storytelling, the veteran directors Bharathiraja, Thiagarajan Kumararaja, Raju Murugan and Balaji Sakthivel stand out.


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