The third episode of Modern Love Chennai, which loosely translates to Love is a Heart-eyed Emoji, directed by Krishnakumar Ramkumar, is all about the idea of perfect love that existed in the mind of a woman from her school days. Will the quest for her soul mate make her an optimist or a pessimist?
Modern Love Chennai Episode 3 begins with Mallika, a school-going girl in her teens, romanticizing the rains and how the films she has grown up watching have convinced her that the rains were always the reason a boy would notice a beautiful girl, and this would be the girl and the boy’s first step towards coming close to each other. Mallika grew up in the late 1980s and 1990s in Tamil Nadu, India. Her mind is heavily influenced by all the movies from that era that showcased romance as running around the trees. There are beautiful songs, meaningful lyrics, emotions, heartbreak, and lovers reconciling. Mallika, who has grown up on the staple of Tamil romance films, believes her life too will follow this script. She would meet her first boyfriend in the cutest fashion, and the boy would soon fall in love with her, and they would become sweethearts for life. All of this seems too perfect for others, but Mallika truly believes in it from the core of her being. The entire episode runs on the voiceover given by Mallika because no one knows her life better than she does. She knows what she wants in a partner, and at heart, she is a romantic person, so she would expect him to be romantic as well.
Her sister asks Mallika to describe love. Mallika describes all the good feelings attached to romance and love, but she never mentions the fact that she wants to marry someone she loves. Unperturbed by this conclusion, Mallika is in search of the first love of her life. She hopes the boy will pursue her or at least notice her, which would be the beginning of their romance. She has a crush on the school basketball player, John, and she cannot stop looking at him. Mallika hopes her crush on John will manifest into her first love, and she would like to experience that. John, though, reveals that he is moving to another school, which puts Mallika in a sad state for a while. She does wallow in the heartbreak of her crush moving to another town, but Mallika is an eternal optimist at this point. She believes her college life lies ahead of her, and she would have ample time to find the love of her life. Mallika is deeply submerged in the concept of romance and love, and it makes it easy for her to be positive all the time. She hopes this positivity will manifest into getting her close to any boy in college she likes.
She comes across RK in college, the lead singer of a popular college band, who happens to like Mallika. Mallika tries hard to get with him, just like in the movies she has watched, but soon RK catches up with her and confesses his liking for her. Mallika and RK choose to converse first through calls and texts, and then they can decide if they should date further or not. As they start conversing on the phone, Mallika and RK gel very well. They become inseparable after a point and begin something called a whirlwind college romance. Mallika and RK get to know each other very well. Mallika is happy with the relationship as they fall in love as well. Mallika calls the relationship perfect because, so far, nothing has gone wrong, and it’s all been smooth sailing. Her relationship with RK is the epitome of romance that she has seen in the movies, and she cannot believe it is happening to her as well. Mallika’s hopes and dreams come crashing down when she sees RK kissing another woman in his car. Heartbroken over the fact that RK did not bother to call her back after she called him several times, Mallika hopes there will be some explanation for his act of cheating, and she wants to know his defense so that she gets closure. For days, Mallika ends up binge-watching romance movies to get over her breakup and does stress eating as well. Mallika’s reaction to her breakup cannot be considered preposterous because this was the loss of love that she was grieving about. Eating one’s heart out is considered normal in that condition. One either starts eating after a breakup or hits the gym. Either way, people need to change their bodies for good. Mallika’s voiceover helps her understand the pain she is going through. It is both painful and hilarious at the same time.
Is Mallika Successful In Finding Her Perfect Soulmate?
One fine day, she comes out of the room to get some sunlight and rejoices in the fact that she is now over RK. The man who romanced her throughout her college years turned out to be an actual rascal. With Mallika out of the breakup blues, all she can think of is getting out of the sulkiness and heartbreak, but her search for the soulmate is far from over. Her college life comes to an end, Mallika is now working, and she is in a relationship with her colleague, Anbu, and she is happier than ever. Mallika hopes this romance will fulfill her dreams, and she can hope Anbu is also taking this relationship seriously. Mallika, who has made a world of love and romance in her head, she wonders if Anbu could be the one for her. She confirms with him if the relationship is casual for him or not, and he considers taking things forward with Mallika.
Anbu reveals that he has let his friends know about her, and he is keen on taking the relationship forward with her. Mallika is elated, and she cannot wait to start planning her festivities. Anbu, though, shows his true colors when he asks Mallika about her caste. Mallika reveals she never knew her caste, and Anbu insists it is important for him to know her caste before the wedding talks begin. Mallika is disgusted by Anbu’s thought process, keeping in mind the amount of money the man makes. Casteism is still a rampant issue, and Mallika does not subscribe to it. She leaves him immediately because she falls in love with a person for whom they are not their caste. Mallika, this time around, is more furious than upset because the man took her for a ride, letting her know he loves her and ruining the whole relationship because of the caste.
After the debacle that was Anbu, Mallika took a long hiatus from dating. She was done going out with people, and slowly she became a pessimist. In contrast to the eternal optimist that she was all these years, her mindset is leaning towards negativity and losing hope over the fact that her soulmate might just not exist. She has the fear of heartbreak in her search for her soulmate, and right now, she is not sure she is ready for another heartbreak. She tried dating apps as well, but that did not work in her favor because she ended up dating a distant cousin of hers. A dejected Mallika is constantly badgered by her mother to find someone; she finds herself single at her younger sister’s wedding. Mallika vents out that she only wanted someone who understood her through and through and got her madness, and she never had any bigger demands. A soulmate is someone she wanted but never got. After a lot of thinking, Mallika agrees to meet a match set up by her parents. Since she has tried many options in the past, meeting people through this method does not seem like a bad idea to her. She was sure she would not find the right guy, but to her surprise, she finally did.
On the night of her wedding, she and her husband start conversing about what movie to watch, and they end up watching one of her favorite films, which happens to be his favorite film as well. She cannot believe this to be true. As they spend the rest of the evening on the terrace, it starts raining, and they enjoy a glass of whiskey. Still, Mallika cannot believe this, it seems like something too good to be true. They both start dancing like nobody’s watching, which confirms that the man she has married is as crazy about love, life, and romance as she is. She cannot believe her luck that she found her man through an arranged marriage, but again, if she had not gone through a series of heartbreaks, she would not have met this man.
The last scene of the third episode of Modern Love Chennai has the voiceover of the husband, who cannot believe his luck to have found a partner who loves life, love, and romance as much as he does. Mallika and her husband are a match meant to be, and he is sure that the kids raised in the music and films of the 1980s and 1990s do have a chance of finding the right partner. He is as elated as Mallika is. They are a match made in heaven.
The emphasis of Modern Love Chennai Episode 3, directed by Krishnakumar Ramkumar and written by Reshma Ghatla, is delving deep into the female psyche thanks to bringing on board a female writer to write about a woman. It was refreshing to see a love story from a female perspective. It kind of reminds me of the Malayalam film Om Shanti Oshana. Telling a love story from a female perspective lets the audience understand the issues women go through, but here, sadly, that portion was not explored. Parents of girl children are usually extra paranoid about their safety and safeguarding, but this was not touched upon. The other aspect of the story and screenplay that bothered me was making arranged marriage look like a winner here after women go through stages of falling in and out of love with people they choose for themselves. It seems like the writer here wanted to come across as Seema Taparia, where kids are finally told they will be better off if they live with partners chosen by the family. This ring of patriarchy comes at a time when many men and women are not allowed to get married to the partner of their choice.
The love for the 90s romance films, though, oozes out beautifully. Finally, there is a representation of people who grew up in the 90s and the amazing romance movies of that decade. The screenplay was too stretched to emphasize the main point, which is that the leading lady is on the lookout for her soulmate. Modern Love Chennai Episode 3 could have chopped off plenty of scenes that I think were not necessary for the screenplay. The third episode’s concept was good, but in execution, it became way too extended. This episode is a nostalgic trip, nonetheless.