I am often accused of taking movies too seriously. “But why did s/he do that?” Apparently, the disclaimer that it is a work of fiction has no bearing on me. I continue to analyze characters as though they are friends I am not in touch with anymore. More recently, watching the Malayalam movie Charlie got me started on one of these tangents.
Tessa (Parvathy) is a twenty-something woman (girl?) who feels restricted by a life the rest of us call “normal”. She quits her job in Bangalore* (because she feels bored), leaves her house (because her mother disapproves of her behaviour in a general sense, and also wants her to marry someone she has no interest in), and moves into a room in a dilapidated heritage building somewhere in Kochi. In the room, she finds a few hundred quirky things belonging to the person (male) who lived there before her. But Tessa clearly has too much time, because instead of clearing out these things after expressing some preliminary interest, she starts following the clues. She unearths story after story about this man, Charlie, who seemingly lives like a vagabond. Everyone she meets has the most unique anecdotes to share about him, such as the time he accompanied a burglar, or how he helped a prostitute celebrate her birthday at sea. Tessa will not stop until she meets him. She travels across Kerala hoping to run into him (even hitching a ride with a truck), but is disappointed at every pit stop. She finally does meet him (of course). He is just the right age, probably the right religion too, and looks like Dulquer Salmaan (who I confess doesn’t do anything for me, but one must take into account that he is a heart-throb currently).
Charlie, the movie, tells us that it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to obsessively look for a man she knows nothing about, while simultaneously developing vague notions of love(?) towards him (based on a photograph and the amusing reminiscences of other people). Tessa plans to join a music class, but the movie forgets all about that once she is confronted by the Mystery of the Vanishing Man, Charlie. What the movie doesn’t tell us is how Tessa pays for her living and travel expenses (she isn’t in any particular hurry to find a job) – does her family support her, does she have money saved up? At least with Charlie, we are told in passing that he sketches for a living (since he is practically homeless and doesn’t seem to need much else in the way of toiletries or clothes, this shouldn’t pose a problem).
And now is probably a good time for you to be thinking, “Oh relax, it’s just a movie.”
*Don’t young Malayalis go anywhere else these days?