‘As I’m Suffering From Kadhal’ – A Breezy RomCom of Cuss words
As I'm Suffering From Kadhal is a Hotstar original, and is a mixed chutney by Hotstar, Trendcloud and Open Window. Directed by Balaji, who is also one of the main protagonists, Season 1 of the series hits all the right notes.
Director Balaji returns to his short-film roots, both in narrative styling and in getting more done out of a shoestring budget.
From ‘*THA’ to F*@K Yeah!
There are two kinds of people in Chennai; those who swear, and those who are okay with it. And yet nowhere in the hundreds of hours of television programming or the movies, can one find a single swear word.
Thanks to the fact that Hotstar is a new platform, all of the characters in the series (except Balakumaran and his 9-10-year-old girl) let rip from the word go. It does sound odd when some of the characters swear in English, partly because they aren't used to it, and in part, because we aren't used to it. But hearing all (as in A.L.L) of the Tamil swear words, occasionally in intelligent combinations made me smile.
This is a welcome change. It's more than a bunch of expletives thrown into a random conversation. It is the language of Chennai which has thankfully transitioned onto the screen.
As I’m Suffering from Prema is the Telugu dubbed version that was released simultaneously. Dhanya has dubbed for herself in Telugu as well. Most of the cuss words though are lost in translation, and lack the tart they had in Tamil. As someone who grew up in Vizag in Andhra Pradesh, I missed those.
Director Balaji Doing What He Does Best
Balaji's debut film Kadhalil Sodhapuvadu Eppadi (How to Screw up when in Love) was adapted from his short film of the same name. It was a brilliant romcom that ticks all the boxes when it comes to the hits and misses of college romance.
Also, when it comes to breaking the fourth wall, this movie can embarrass Deadpool.
The movie was kind of a landmark when it comes to the portrayal of romance on screen in Tamil cinema.
In Maari (2015), starring Dhanush, Balaji rode the wave of gangster comedies that Soodhu Kavvum started off. It was a two hour celebration for Dhanush fans, but not much else. Nevertheless, it worked well enough to get Maari-2 up and running and ready for release.
With #SufferingFromKadhal, Balaji returns to his romantic roots, and explores four different sets of relationships which build up to a juicy cliffhanger.
Here’s a clip from Kadhalil Sodhapuvadhu Eppadi. Mind the (fourth) wall.
Lacklustre to Stellar Performances
Rattling off the names of the cast will be as pointless as a teacher’s roll call on the first day of school. No one is going to remember anyone’s names.
However, the couple that stands out is Santhosh and Meera, played by Balaji (yes, the director) and Dhanya. Santhosh cheats on Meera at a bachelor’s party on the day of their wedding. Dhanya returns the favour, in a vengeful mood. That’s the one liner of their story, but it gets more layered as we go along.
What is delicious to watch is the on-screen anti-chemistry they share. The irritation they feel in each other’s presence is palpable. Every cuss word, every slight and wanton silence is bang on.
Incidentally, Dhanya (who plays Meera) assisted Balaji in writing the script and was also part of the direction. In a way, this shows, especially when the women on screen talk about an issue, or speak with each other.
Balaji is a better director than an actor. Of the eight major characters, Balaji’s Santhosh looks like a clux, occasionally. But the character grew on me. By the time I was a couple of episodes in, I started to root for Santhosh, who’s got his own set of idiosyncrasies.
Sundar, who plays Balakumaran (divorcee, single dad), is probably the most seasoned actor of the lot. He’s older than the rest, and has played supporting roles, most notably in Mayakkam Enna, a visually brilliant Dhanush starrer.
The rest of the characters are what they are off-screen, and so they look casual and natural, even in the intensely funny or serious scenes.
The Usual Suspects
As I’m Suffering From Kadhal is filled with delightful cameos. Robo Shankar, Andrea Geremia, and even the lead actors Dhanya and Sundar bring in a sense of familiarity. These are actors who shine bright in well-written roles.
Robo Shankar, as director Gautham Vasudev Menon’s AD, left me in splits. This is the second time I’m watching him in a cameo that takes a dig at the director. The first was in the movie Pa Pandi, where he gives Gautham Menon hell, as a ‘mass’ actor who thinks it’s classy to wear dark goggles inside a discotheque.
An actual movie by Gautham Menon, featuring Robo Shankar; now that I’d like to watch!
As I’m Suffering From Kadhal is a refreshing rom-com that anyone living in a metro city can relate to. It comes with subtitles, so even if you don’t speak Tamil or Telugu, you might enjoy it.