Pradeep Ranganathan's film tries to show the flimsiness of contemporary relationships and largely succeeds
There was a time in Tamil cinema when our heroes and heroines used to be the perfect-looking, do-gooders who never dared to cross the lines of morality. While men had the occasional liberty to push boundaries, women weren’t accorded the same and were expected to be chaste and provide unconditional love. This has changed though, and we now see imperfections and these imperfect stories turn out to be relatable, original, and earnest.
Director: Pradeep Ranganathan
Cast: Pradeep Ranganathan, Ivana, Sathyaraj, Yogi Babu
Love Today is one such story of two imperfect youngsters—Uthaman Pradeep and Nikhitha—who live in a make-believe world assuming themselves to be ‘the perfect couple’. They call each other all the sweet names in the world. While one person’s ringtone goes ‘Kadhal Neethaana‘, the other person’s phone rings, ‘Unmai Kadhal Yaar Endraal’. It’s that phase where everything is beautiful and romantic. The two assume they know everything about each other, and it is conveyed in the film’s very first dialogue when the guy says, ‘Enakku unna pathi ellam theriyum baby‘ as he swoons over her. The girl repeats this a lot too. But all this is until they discover the truth.
After making his debut with a rather quirky Comali, filmmaker Pradeep Ranganathan comes up with another unconventional idea for his sophomore film — a couple exchanging their phones for a day and learning dark secrets about each other. This film is an extension of his short film, Appa Lock, which too starred him. The first look and trailer of Love Today made a lot of noise with many worried if it might be a celebration of misogyny or glorification of toxic relationships. However, Pradeep proves them all wrong by focussing on something… sincere. The film simply attempts to showcase the flimsiness of contemporary relationships.
Pradeep, the actor, reminds us a lot of Dhanush from his early days, or even SJ Suryah for that matter. Apart from his build and the guy-next-door persona, he has a certain zeal that’s apt for this film. He finds a perfect foil in Ivana, who is equally chirpy and shows much potential during the emotionally heavy scenes. Though the focus is mostly on Pradeep and Nikhitha, there’s also another couple, Divya (Raveena) and Yogi (Yogi Babu), at the thick of things. These two couples drive home the film’s two important points — the importance of trust and personal space in relationships. Just like in Comali, here too, Yogi Babu gets a heartwarming character arc.
Pradeep, the filmmaker, deserves appreciation for not resorting to clichés prevalent in this genre. After exchanging the phones, when the guy unravels unknown info about his girlfriend and accuses her of cheating, there is a perfect setting for a women-bashing song to happen at a wineshop, but thankfully, Pradeep steers clear. He understands his target audience and conveys his ideas through simple, effective dialogues. The largely focused narrative meanders a little in the final act when it becomes preachy. However, that works too because of veterans like Radikaa and Sathyaraj. After his caricaturish act in the recently released Prince, Sathyaraj returns to being sharp and convincing.
Performances aside, Love Today is powered by rich production values and a strong technical team. The film is punctuated by several clever creative moments beginning right from the innovative title cards that show the manufacturing of a mobile phone, a key tool in the narrative. Take, for instance, a scene when Pradeep, sitting on a commode, logs into his girlfriend’s Instagram account. What he sees in that trip down the not-so-good rabbit hole hints at the s***storm that is about to hit him. While it is often a challenge to show social media happenings on screen, the makers of Love Today employ inventive techniques to make it fun and appealing. The edits and flashy transitions, particularly in the first half, are a hoot. A hilarious stretch where Radikaa goes on a rant about her son’s phone usage is brilliantly designed to evoke laughs. Yuvan Shankar Raja’s funky music aids in enhancing these fun moments. The idea of incorporating a remixed version of ‘Kuttrale Aruviyile Kulichadhu Pol Irukkudha‘ in the background whenever things go south is an ingenious move. One can sense the kind of fun Yuvan had while working on the film, and it’s easily one of his better works in recent times. Pradeep also pays homage to his music icon in quite a few scenes, which include a portrait of Yuvan in his room.
During the film’s announcement, many thought that the makers were trying to cash in on Vijay’s popularity by borrowing the title of his 1997 hit, but the title makes complete sense once you watch the film. It is a film about today’s love, and Pradeep does a great job of ensuring that it’s a story for everyone.
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