July Kaatril Review: A sensitive but long exploration of urban love
The refreshingly perceptive writing of the film pragmatically portrays how the current generation is finding our feet in the relationship arena
Judge me all you want, but I cherish a soft corner for romcoms and dramedies. And no, it is not because I am a woman. Rather, it is the universal appeal of relationships. There is a flip side -- romance is the most cliche-ridden genre. But this also gives you an idea of what you are walking into, a sense of safety. And I walked out of July Kaatril pleasantly surprised.
July Kaatril follows the lives of Rajeev (Anant Nag), Shreya (Anju Kurian), and Revathi (Samyuktha Menon) and their relationships. The writing is refreshingly perceptive; it pragmatically portrays how the current generation is finding our feet in the relationship arena. Unlike earlier generations, we aren’t willing to settle. We long to ride happily into the sunset. But what are our expectations from the other person? How important is that ‘spark’? And if you find that, what do you do? Don’t we try to tailor them to our expectations? July Kaatril sensibly deals with these questions through the stories it narrates. The characters find the idea of ‘love’ fascinating. However, when their actual experience doesn’t quite match up, they falter. Some hold on tightly, to a point where they lose their self. Some push the other person too hard. Some give it time and decide to move on. Different things work for different people, but I loved how July Kaatril handled the healing part. There’s grief but not anger. There’s love but also eventual acceptance, of themselves and also what happened.
Director: KC Sundaram
Cast: Anant Nag, Anju Kurian, Samyuktha Menon
I loved the women of July Kaatril. Shreya is a modern woman, but not someone we'd immediately associate with that term. She dresses in elegant salwars and palazzos, is soft spoken, but she also has a career that she is fond of. She offers to pay. She is somewhat meek, but has a mind of her own. Shreya looks and feels real, like the women we encounter in everyday life. So does Revathi, who falls on the other end of the ‘modern woman’ spectrum. If Shreya can be described as beautiful, Revathy is hot. Unlike Shreya, Revathy doesn’t take no for an answer when someone doesn’t let her pay. But the film doesn’t deify or victimise either of them. In a pleasant surprise, we get to see the stories from their perspectives as well. I especially want to thank KC Sundaram for giving them both careers and hobbies that aren’t just on-paper details; also friends who seem real. When was the last time we saw two women friends discuss something other than men? Of course, there is that too. But the conversations seem fuller, more defined. A counsellor finds it hard to deal with her own break-up -- the irony is lovely. You might know it yourself, but when you’re in trouble, it takes someone else’s words to make you understand. The film’s tagline: ‘Love, Break up…?’ might be unsophisticated, but it fits.
However, for all the film's sensitivity, I wish it had avoided a few cliches as well. Most of this comes in the form of the men -- Rajeev and Murali (Sathish). I am sorry, but July Kaatril is just not the kind of film where one makes ‘married man eyeing the maid’ digs. Not that they are acceptable elsewhere, but it does quite ruin the mood of the film. I wish Sathish would essay roles that go beyond the usual ‘crass drinking buddy’. While the actors all look the part, the performances had to be more effective. Anju Kurian gives the most convincing performance of the lot. The screenplay has a tired familiarity to it (just how many more times are we going to use the ‘sketching the girlfriend as a monkey’?) and the songs, despite being pleasant, act as speed breakers.
I wondered why the film was titled July Kaatril. Was it a nod to the transient nature of love? Of how easy it is to find love but difficult to stay in it? Unlike most of our films, July kaatril doesn't force feed us answers. Which is why it made me sad that there were only four other people in the audience for my show. Many people might not even come to know about it. It made think how similar cinema is to a relationship. It is not just about being with the right person, but also about doing so at the right time.