What is love? Is it everlasting the way it’s presented in art and literature? Most importantly, what happens to it after marriage? Does marital bliss exist or is it hard to attain? These questions and more are what director Khalid Rahman tries to answer in his movie Love.
The opening scene is of Deepthi (Rajisha Vijayan) in a maternity clinic getting a scan. To the surprise of her doctor, she doesn’t seem too thrilled about being two months pregnant. The scene then moves to her husband Anoop (Shine Tom Chacko) who’s playing a video game and drinking.
He receives a message informing him about the pregnancy that he ignores. Deepthi walks in and they start arguing, a fight breaks and it ends with an accident. After that, Anoops receives three visits: one from his father-in-law whose been calling Deepthi but she never replies, another from his friend (played by Gokulan) whose world is collapsing and is in a suicidal mood and the last is from another friend (played by Sudhi Koppa) who’d brought his girlfriend with him in hope of spending some time with her in Anoop’s flat. The three friends have one thing in common: unhappy marriages.
While Anoop is trying to find a way out of his own disaster, he ends up helping his friends to get over their own problems by offering them sincere advice and ways out of tricky situations. The irony is that he fails to see the blatant truth: his friends merely reflect his own marital issues that he’s been failing miserably to resolve. Clearly, Anoop is doing what most of us are guilty of: offering advice that we seldomly follow (an Arabic proverb that describes such situation is: a carpenter’s door with loose hinges). Although the movie only lasts for an hour and a half, yet the whole time you’re at the edge of your seat wanting to know what’s going to happen next.
Shot during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic (and released a year later), the entire movie is set in the couple’s flat. The couple scenes are brilliant as they reflect what is it like to be in a toxic relationship that lacks everything that makes a marriage endure: communication, faithfulness, honesty, and openness. However, the domestic violence scenes are shocking as the director uses slow motion to ensure that the viewers are visually and emotionally engaged. The only sign of love that existed between Anoop and Deepthi is in pictures — framed and hung around the flat — of them smiling and happy.
Gokulan’s performance as the edgy yet loyal friend is impeccable. His indecisiveness is irritating and funny at the same time. There are times when I found Anoop’s reactions to certain situation uncharacteristic but the final scenes with Deepthi were flawless. Rasjisha Vijayan’s performance as the wife caught up in a miserable marriage and how it reflects upon her being is original.
There is a clever twist as the movie nears the end, yet the ending baffled me and I wished that the director had added a few more minutes to explain it to the unimaginative viewers like me. Love was released in the UAE cinemas on October 2020 and became the first Malayalam movie to be screened after Covid-19 restrictions. It didn’t do well in the box office yet when streamed on Netflix, it captured a wider audience. Movie critics recommends to watch it twice in order to pay attention to clues planted in many scenes. Like its title, Love is a deceiving movie where reality is often blurred with illusion. Recommended for movie fanatics. Available on Netflix.
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja. firstname.lastname@example.org