Tej I Love You Review: A sloppily made, outdated romantic saga
The story, dialogues and the tropes are all outdated, and it's disappointing to see the man who made Tholi Prema fall into such a rut
No matter how many films prove it time and again, somehow some of our filmmakers never get the hint. Age old formulas, screenplays and narratives that might have incidentally worked before won’t work over and over again. Tej I Love You reminds you of every Karunakaran film ever, and not in a good way.
Director: A Karunakaran
Cast: Sai Dharam Tej, Anupama Parameswaran
For those who care, there are spoilers ahead. If painfully predictable twists count as spoilers, that is. The film opens with a ten-year-old Tej (an orphan except for a massive extended family that takes care of him) helping out a stranded woman and saving her life from goons. He murders one of them in the process and tells the woman to leave the spot. Although the woman wants to help out the kid, her conniving husband is hesitant to let her defend his crime. She writes a cheque to the boy and leaves for London, entrusting her husband with the cheque. Conniving as he is, he doesn’t deliver it to the boy.
Grown-up Tej (Sai Dharam Tej), who gets sent off to college right after his jail time, is thrown out of the house because he helps his sister elope. Of course, the audience find out that he has taken the blame for her. Meanwhile, he crosses paths with Nandini (Anupama), and after an hour’s worth of mutual harassment, they fall in love with each other. Alas, before Nandini accepts Tej’s proposal, she meets with an accident. She forgets her past. Not all of it, just three months and 12 days worth of it. This means that she conveniently forgets that her mother, who, of course, is the woman Tej helped years ago, sent her to India from London to find the boy, thank him and give him what he deserves. Her husband, on the other hand, cashes in on Nandini’s lost memory to influence her. The rest of the film is how Tej finds his way back into his house and wins Nandini’s love, and how Nandini finds out about her evil father’s ways, fulfils her mother’s dying wish and how she convinces Tej that she is not in love with him only out of gratitude. Yes, a lot happens.
First things first, the film is nauseatingly colourful. The makers could have gone easy on the colour correction. Vermillion shouldn’t be looking pink! As if the visuals alone were not enough, the cartoonish portrayal of the characters only makes things worse. Sai Dharam Tej is a ball of misplaced energy, while Anupama struggles to keep up. The film progresses erratically with romance, emotional and comedy sequences thrown together haphazardly. The story, dialogues and the tropes are all outdated. The happy-go-lucky protagonist who is unrealistically selfless, a heroine who loses her memory after an accident that barely gives her a scratch, the heroine’s father who is basically a money-loving villain, the hero’s friends who are solely meant for fat jokes and comic relief -- they're all there. The songs and background score try really hard to make an impact and fall flat. There is no element in this film that you will walk out appreciating unconditionally.
It’s disappointing to see a filmmaker who rewrote the trend in 1998 with Tholi Prema, fall into a rut of his own making a decade later with Tej I Love You. It’s time to move on. The audience has.