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Karthik Dial Seytha Yenn short film review: Gautam Menon's 96 in a phone call- Cinema express

Karthik Dial Seytha Yenn short film review: Gautam Menon's 96 in a phone call  

Gautam Menon’s short film is a bit contrived but passable phone conversation of Karthik and Jessie amidst coronavirus pandemic

Published: 21st May 2020

Karthik does what many memes and social media posts advised against during the trying times of the coronavirus pandemic — calling your ex. But over the course of the 12-minute short, we realise that Karthik and Jessie have been in touch ever since the still-single director showed his debut film, Jessie, to her. But this call seems to be a bit more urgent. Karthik is having a writer’s block and is unable to write a single line for his protagonist Divya. So, he calls ‘J’, and tells the mother of two, “I need you.” (We heard a similar line in the Dhruvanatchathiram teaser as well)

Director: Gautham Vasudev Menon

Cast: Simbu, Trisha

What follows is the phone conversation between Karthik and Jessie, which dispenses information about the current state of their relationship, whereabouts, and life, etc. There are also these witty meta nuggets where Gautham seems to be ranting about his current predicament. He worries about his two pending projects and signing more contracts. There is also an homage to Mani Ratnam and Mouna Ragam.

The most interesting aspect of Karthik Dial Seytha Yenn is how it is reminiscent of Trisha’s 96. The actress is again helping out a man-child, who is struggling to get over her. She says, “Karthik nee illama naan vera oru vaazhkai kulla poitaen… angayum ellamae azhaga iruku. Naan enna panrathu?” It is perhaps the most effective and beautiful line in the film. She still says, “I love you Karthik.” But those are just words to pacify a crying child, who is a silly romantic holding on to the only good thing in his life.

She even calls him her ‘third child’. The line is more problematic than it is melodramatic. Jessie and Gautham seem to be disrespecting both Karthik and our memory of the beautiful relationship. Also, it makes one wonder, how the director (with such a horrid closure to the relationship) will take this world forward if he has plans for a full-fledged sequel.

Though we are glad to see Karthik and Jessie back on screen, there is something amiss in this whole thing. It is even tempting to say that what’s missing is the magic that we felt a decade ago. But it could also be that along with Jessie we have moved on as well.

The filmmaking is minimalistic with not-so-seamless cuts. Of course, one is expected to cut slack for the film given the immense constraints the team has made this under. But it's a paradox when you realise there would have been no Karthik Dial Seytha Yenn without the coronavirus or the constraints.  

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