Malayalam director Khalid Rahman, who won our hearts with Anuraga Karikkin Vellam and Unda, has come out with his new directorial, Love, that is as complicated as the meaning of its title. After a brief theatrical run, Love has released on Netflix, where the film has turned into a talking point among the viewers for its complex narrative, themes of domestic violence and its baffling sense of mystery. Starring Shine Tom Chacko and Rajisha Vijayan in the lead, Love has them play a couple, whose marriage comes under scrutiny after an ugly spat. Akshay Kumar's Bell Bottom Is Not the First Film to Be Shot During the Pandemic, Malayalam Writer Reminds Everyone of Love and C U Soon.
(HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD) If you have seen the film, you know that Love doesn't spell things easy out to you. To give the gist of what the film is about, the wife Deepthi (Rajisha) learns something life-changing at the beginning of the movie. She later goes to her home, where she has a fight with her husband Anoop (Shine), who earlier ignored her message on his phone and was playing video games when she arrives. While we don't know what they are fighting for - the scene mutes out their words - it gets aggressive by the minute, resulting in a bloody aftermath.
Deepthi is dead. Anoop, anguished and shocked at what he did, tries to hide the body in his bathroom, when a friend (Gokulan) barges in after ringing the doorbell many times. He has his own marital problems. Soon another friend (Sudhi Koppa) arrives with his girlfriend (Veena Nandhakumar) to have a sexual session in Anoop's bedroom. We learn that both of them are married to other people. It comes to a point that both the friends see their marriages come to the brink of collapse, and Anoop tells them of the corpse in the room. Here the door-bell rings for the third time. From Fahadh Faasil’s Kumbalangi Nights to Mammootty’s Unda, 7 Malayalam Movies of 2019 to Watch If You Want a Break From Bollywood Masala!
Watch the Trailer of Love:
Inexplicably, the scene is reset and Anoop is confused to see an alive Deepthi walking in, while his 'friends' have vanished. Deepthi reveals she is pregnant, and also tells him that she knows he is having an affair with a married woman. In the ensuing argument, Anoop once again hits her, this time with a electric iron. She is dead, again, and Anoop tries to escape.
In the final scene, his car is seen driving through the night when it is stopped by the police. To our surprise, it is Deepthi who is driving the car. She tells the cop that she killed her husband, and when the police opens the boot of the car, they find Anoop's corpse in there.
So what happened here? How did the scene got reset? How was Deepthi killed twice and still managed to return alive? How did Anoop turn out dead? Khalid Rahman, despite the intimate setting of his narrative (most of the film is set within a flat), is in no mood to give easy answers. But we can make our guesses here right?
It feels like that Khalid Rahman is influenced by the works of David Lynch, especially Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway, and also Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ. To understand the climax better, we need to deconstruct what came in earlier, especially Anoop's 'friends', the reset and the double murder.
We can now presume that both his friends, who remain unnamed throughout, are manifestations of Anoop's mental trauma. That is already hinted in the scene when Anoop imagines his bathroom walls to be crumbling after killing his wife.
Gokulan's character represents the violent victim complex for Anoop. He is earlier seen suicidal over what he assumes to be his wife's affair with his friend Shelby, and later turns out to be a sociopath who is willing to murder this Shelby, and pin the blame of Deepthi's murder on him.
In the second confrontation scene between Anoop and Deepthi, Anoop accuses Deepthi to be carrying an affair with Shelby (who is voiced by Sunny Wayne), though the claim feels empty. It is that, after being cornered over his own real extra-marital affair, Anoop wanted to play victim to escape the situation and tries to pass the blame on his wife. His murderous rage that parallels the anger of Gokulan's character is what leads to hitting Deepthi again.
Now let's discuss the second friend character, played by Sudhi Koppa. He represents the guilt for Anoop. What happens to him, is also what has happened to Anoop in terms of his relationship with two women. While this friend remains unnamed, his lover is not so. Which means that Anoop's fling is the same girl, Haritha, especially as Deepthi also mentions his lover having a husband and a child, and Haritha also share the same family details.
Anoop trying to reason with his friends, is he trying to reason himself to work things out with his own wife. But he fails to do that, just as he fails to evict his friends from his flat (which I believe is his own mind).
When the two 'friends' resolve to help Anoop wash his hands off the murder of his wife (one of them reluctantly so), it points out to a possibility of Anoop imagining the whole scenario of what happens when he is confronted by Deepthi over his affair, and him determining to kill his wife. This might also explain why there was no dialogues during the first fight scene between the couple, for words didn't matter there. Anoop was just trying to process what would happen next if he did kill her.
As to what triggered the thought of murdering his wife might be message that she sent him before coming to the flat. He might have suspected that she got a whiff of his affair, so his mind might have gone on an overdrive. That he is a violent person is already established in his scene with Deepthi's father (Johnny Anthony), when he doesn't deny he has indulged in domestic violence.
When they fight the second time, we hear their argument properly this time, and the details as well. Anoop still in two minds, it is the murderous one (Gokulan's character) that takes control, resulting in him killing his wife again. Or that was something he was supposed to do.
This whole above scenario could be Anoop reimagining his dying moments when lying in Deepthi's car. Of what he would have done if he had chosen to listen to his murderous side, instead of the conflicted side. Or maybe, it was Deepthi herself imagining the whole scenario, trying to mentally acquit herself of killing her husband over his affair.
We can take any one of that option, or maybe think of some other - Rahman's narrative is filled with layers that opens up more with each viewing. But in the end, it is simply a destruction of a marriage that begin with the basking of love, and ended (rather murderously) when the feeling vanished. If it's still not clear, Love begins with Deepthi learning of her pregnancy - a symbol of their love - and ending with her driving with her husband's body. What could be a scarier look at a crumbling marriage than this!
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 23, 2021 09:06 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).