I did not know of the Joker and Harley Quinn story until I watched Suicide Squad, which is really not my kind of movie at all. Going by what others told me, it wasn’t anyone’s kind of movie either. I was a bit disturbed when I later observed many teenagers thinking that the relationship between Joker and Harley Quinn was a romantic relationship to aspire to. Please consider telling off kids sharing memes about how special those two are. It could be your good deed for the day.
Kaatru Veliyidai is a romance in the manner of the above. VC is a fighter pilot who enjoys being an all-round prick. He likes to control his partner, humiliate her in front of his peers and family, hurt her physically and emotionally, love her until she is frightened by him. He channels his inner Gollum at every opportunity, treating her like his precious possession. Leela is a doctor low on confidence, who for reasons unknown even to her, falls in love with VC and continues to remain in love with him after he treats her like a “slave/pet dog.” She is one of those ethereal fairies who imagine they could be in love with someone, and then proceed to love said person even after discovering how unpleasant he is to be with.
Terrible people can fall in love too, but must their terrible-ness be romanticized so? We are encouraged to marvel at the beauty of the lead actors and the stunning visuals, all the while shifting uncomfortably in our seats and cringing at yet another example of misogyny in a Tamil movie. VC is this way supposedly because of a difficult family life – an abusive father is mentioned somewhere. While VC recognizes he isn’t winning any points for Best Human Being, he does little to change himself. It appears as though he needed to undergo torture as a prisoner of war to realize women should not be abused. A more pragmatic approach would be for the woman to extricate herself from such a relationship, but that is not the approach this movie is going for.
Leela thinks they are not compatible after having her heart broken a few times more than she can handle. Yet she is unable to stay away from him, and we are unable to understand why. Maybe he is her big DIY project, or their amorous activities are the stuff of legend, but we are left guessing. We can hardly feel for VC and Leela, not when they are together, not when they are apart, and we couldn’t care less about their reconciliation.
I should end this here, but I want to draw attention to the fact that VC and Leela keep referring to each other in the third person while they are in front of each other. I know Malayalam is often spoken this way, but it starts to grate after a point. I am going to try doing this people who annoy me, just to throw them off balance. Also, everyone speaks a most curious mix of high Tamil and casual English – a combination as incongruous as wearing Valentino pumps and walking to the nearest Sangeetha Hotel.