Readers Write In #117: The VTV Experience

Posted on November 30, 2019


(by N Madhusudhan)

Having read Vishal Menon’s ranking of Gautham Menon’s films (which also happens to be a lovely tribute to the best of GVM’s films) in Film Companion website, I was so soaked in nostalgia and my own rush of emotions that I felt a desperate need to talk about my obsession for GVM’s best film (arguably) – Vinnaithandi Varuvayaa.

If you were one of those awkward 16-year-olds studying in a conservative school where walking up to a girl you secretly liked and saying ‘Hi’ was regarded as your most significant achievement by your peers, this film was that much-needed thunderbolt that changed your life forever. The freshness of this film, it’s music, characters and situations was beyond anything you’d ever seen or imagined – it struck you, turned your life upside down and you kept going back to it at different points in life. It’s no coincidence that the most popular line from the film goes ‘adhu ungala thakkanum, thala keela potu thiruppanum’.

For weeks, the lines, such as the one above, kept running in your head. Rahman’s music was getting into your nerves like slow poison that, soon, you realized that you were completely consumed by it. The sudden rush of testosterone was more evident than ever. Your feelings for the girl you liked grew stronger. The fact that she was beyond your reach made you feel like the film’s protagonist. You were a sophisticated soup boy from a GVM film.

Yet, looking back two years later, you realized this was just a phase, although a significant one. A phase that was triggered by a film, after all, a piece of entertainment you paid 100 bucks for. A phase that significantly changed you as a person. This film would become so personal and iconic that you’d pick fights with guys twice your size defending it. What was so special about this film that triggered this phase?

Was it the iconic line ‘Inga enna solludhu? Jessie Jessie solludha’ that made you ask the same question every time you fell for a girl?

Was it Rahman’s soulful music?

Was it the Jessie character that would go on to completely change the way female characters were written for tamil films? Was it her indecisiveness which made her real and relatable?

Was it Karthik’s aggressive passion?

Was it the amazing visuals, which you later realized could be admired for its beauty even with the sound off?

Was it the film’s life-like portrayal of the central conflicts and how its characters handled them?

Was it the realistic ending?

Was it the unusually light humour in an otherwise serious film?

Multiple viewings later, you realized it was all of the above. This was one of those rare films that had the best of everyone who worked on it. It had one of Rahman’s greatest ever scores. It had career defining performances from Simbu and Trisha. It was (and still is) GVM’s best film.

You still recall the lines. The music still keeps playing in your head. A part of you wouldn’t exist today if you hadn’t watched this film. You seldom realized when you paid those 100 bucks that the next 3 hours is going to have such a profound effect on your life.

Vishal Menon beautifully summarizes this experience saying “VTV wasn’t just a film…it was a season. Few films have the power to become an obsession like this one. Think back of the time you watched it first and that entire month felt like we were living IN the film’s blue toned world. In Orson Wells’ world a Jessie can even be called ‘Rosebud’. It is life’s most profound pain…the reason why you’ve become who you are, for better or for worse.”

After almost a decade since its release, it’s great to know that the film still speaks to many of us.