Readers Write In #186: Karthik Yenn Dial Seytha?

Posted on May 21, 2020

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(by Hariharasudhen Nagarajan)

A Gautham Menon film receiving negative reviews has become increasingly common in recent years. Unaffected by brickbats and coronavirus, he takes up the daunting task of continuing to trace the lives of two of his iconic characters in his film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya. I am wary of sequels or any sort of follow-up works in general. Sequels in films are similar to seasons in TV series. The writer does all the hard work for part/season 1; he creates multi-dimensional characters, crafts memorable dialogues, and weaves them into a winning screenplay. Sequels or subsequent seasons can undo all the elements that went into creating magic in the first installment.

Karthik Dial Seytha Yenn, unfortunately, did not work for me. I had issues right from the short film’s opening scene. The entire world knows that we are facing a pandemic, and there is hope that one day this pandemic will cease to exist. Why can’t the director give us hints about the lockdown through, say, the news on TV or phone instead of eating into the Jessie-Karthik phone conversation? The conversation, one after ten years, is personal to both the characters and the audiences. It needed more of their happiness and sorrows. It basically required more of…..them.

Gautham Menon gets it right when it comes to portraying Jessie as someone who cannot be understood. Gautham Menon explores the concept of moving on post-marriage, and the conversations in Karthik Dial Seytha Yenn parallel those in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya‘s coffee shop scene. When Karthik of Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya forces Jessie to accept her feelings for him, she puts a full stop by saying, enakku idhu vendaam. purinjidhada?, showing him their age difference. Jessie also tells him that her sister is leading a happy life after her parents forced her to marry against her wishes. When Karthik of Karthik Dial Seytha Yenn confesses that he’s still in love with her and forcefully asks her to requite his love, Jessie lets him know that she’s in a happy space right now with her family. Jessie also ends up child-zoning Karthik. Could Jessie have made up the story about her happy post-marriage life, inspired by the plot of Mouna Ragam? Her final shot where the camera lingers on her could suggest that she still may not have moved on.

Although the idea of creating parallels works, the execution left me unimpressed. I could not buy Jessie considering Karthik as her child after everything these two characters have been through in their lives and our hearts. Sure, Jessie doesn’t know how to make Karthik move on, but is such a crude line required, especially in a short film where duration is a constraint?

Should we be nice to the makers because the short film got made during such tough times? I am not so sure. The expectations are still high since this short film is coming from an acclaimed filmmaker and is a follow-up to a legendary romance. For now, I am sticking to Karthik Yenn Dial Seytha?