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Monday, December 16, 2019

Adithya Varma movie review: Dhruv Vikram shines in this faithfully-remade problematic film

Adithya Varma movie review: Tamil cinema's love for toxic romance continues with this Dhruv Vikram-starrer.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Written by S Subhakeerthana | Chennai | Updated: November 23, 2019 8:33:44 am
Adithya Varma movie review Adithya Varma movie review: Let’s stop romanticising bad relationships, please. It’s not fun.

Adithya Varma movie cast: Dhruv Vikram, Banita Sandhu
Adithya Varma movie director: Gireesaya
Adithya Varma movie rating: 3 stars

Throughout the film, a character keeps asking Adithya Varma: “Yaaru da, nee?” I have an answer: if toxicity took a human form, that’s him. Adithya Varma is a medical college student but spends more time on women, liquor and drugs. He thinks it’s cool to walk into a classroom and instruct a girl where to sit. Also, he voluntarily picks a plump woman, assuming she would be more loyal in friendship.

Adithya, barely after interacting with Meera, goes to her hostel, finds her, places his head on her lap and sleeps. Meera doesn’t say a word. She gets a blanket and helps Adithya. If only it happened in real life.

Adithya tells Meera that he likes the way she breathes, yet, when she leaves him, Adithya names his dog “Meera”. You may say he doesn’t want to forget Meera, and that’s why. PLEASE! Adithya decides everything for Meera. He almost thinks he owns her. He goes to Meera’s home and yells at her parents as well.

Adithya is good at what he does. Sex? No, medicine. He knows no fear and is shown as this rockstar figure in college. He gets into a brawl following a football match, and justifies his actions to the principal saying, “fights give him a sense of satisfaction.” Show me a wall, so that I can bang my head against it.

Adithya isn’t in love with Meera. They meet, the ‘cupid’ strikes. Adithya is smitten by Meera. It’s likewise. They are sexually attracted to each other, and confuse it with ‘love’. Because, when you are in love, you don’t hit or disrespect your partner. You make them feel loved. All Meera and Adithya do is kiss, kiss more, kiss everywhere and have sex. I am wondering what made Adithya decide she is ‘the one’?

Adithya casually asks “physical help” from a leading actress, when Meera walks out of his life. Adithya barks worse than his dog when the actress mentions ‘love’. He thinks a commitment-free relationship is cool. You don’t understand why exactly Adithya is in love with Meera. They neither have deep conversations about life nor spend quality time outside the bedroom. They have great sex, but where’s ‘love’?

Meera tells Adithya it’s her birthday. After wishing her, they have sex. He doesn’t even make an effort to buy her a thoughtful gift. I feel there is no difference between the relationship Adithya and Meera had and the bond Adithya and the actress had. Just that here, Adithya liked Meera more. Maybe, Adithya didn’t feel like asking Meera, “Can we be friends without benefits”, like how he asked the actress.

Adithya could be the most desirable boy on the planet, but that’s not an excuse for being violent. No, it’s not about portraying a flawed character ‘honestly’. You can’t say “he has anger issues, he will only behave this way”.

Adithya needs mental help, not love. Love isn’t a cure for bad behaviour. For God’s sake, please stop rehashing Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh into ten other regional languages. No, we need more characters like Nayanthara in Viswasam to run from men, who display anger issues, but not “love” them in return⁠.

I still don’t get why Meera accepts Adithya in the end. You may say he has changed. But that’s not a valid reason to let someone again into your life. The damage is done already.

Meera also slaps Adithya because she apparently “missed” him. Why the hell would you hit someone to express ‘love’, I don’t understand. Okay, chuck everything, including “relationships”. Who wants to be friends with this guy who stuffs ice into his pants, just because he couldn’t get physical with a woman?

Adithya is mean to everyone, including his dog. And, that’s what tore me apart.

We get Leela Samson’s character utter a beautiful line midway: “Suffering is very personal. Let Adithya suffer”. You need to understand, it’s also the audience who is suffering.

Jokes apart, please help me understand in which sophisticated hospital does a nurse light a cigar for a doctor? Maybe when Arjun Reddy got released, nobody knew what gaslighting, hoovering and misogyny was. At least, when Kabir Singh hit theaters, half the population started addressing the issues the film had. Maybe, it’s not about being heard. Maybe, it’s about screaming. I repeat, Toxic masculinity is not heroic. It’s disgusting. Beating up men or women doesn’t make you a ‘hero’.

We see Raja in the role of Dhruv’s father. I’d say he’s wasted in this comeback vehicle. None of his dialogues get registered in your mind except, “As you go deeper into life, you experience only nothingness”.

Something about Adithya Varma’s family is unsettling. The whole situation appears fictional. The mother hardly talks to Adithya. She appears only when Adithya is admitted to the hospital. When they know their son has mental health issues, they go ahead with another son’s marriage, which is bizarre. The characters may appear real, but not the situations.

I don’t understand how and why Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh became top grossers and were celebrated in theaters. As long as you have a male audience who normalise and trivialise a problematic film, things won’t change.

I met Dhruv a couple of days ago and asked why did he choose to debut with the remake of Arjun Reddy. He said it gave him a fantastic scope to perform, adding, “movies should be watched as movies”. Having said that, I quite liked his demeanour. Dhruv was terrific on screen, I must admit. He displays no signs of being a newcomer. But remakes are tricky. Arjun Reddy worked because of Vijay Deverakonda, who became a sensation. It is not easy to imagine Dhruv or anyone else for that matter in Deverakonda’s place. Certain films suit only certain actors. When Deverakonda bullies others, it looked real – whereas, when Dhruv does the same, it doesn’t look authentic. Maybe, we could accept only Deverakonda because he’s truly one-of-a-kind. The magic happens only once.

But, will Adithya Varma work for Dhruv? I doubt. Maybe those who haven’t watched Arjun Reddy would like it. In my opinion, the Telugu original works better than Kabir Singh and Adithya Varma.

Let’s stop romanticising bad relationships, please. It’s not fun. One thing we need to agree is we all “like to watch Arjun Reddy”. But, would you be in a relationship with a guy like Arjun Reddy? I hope not.

Adithya Varma tells Adithya’s story. But I want someone to make a film on Meera’s version of the story. I am curious to know how it will be received. Love can cause pain, suffering and deep hurt, but abuse, humiliation and violence isn’t the answer to it any day.

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