Readers Write In #528: Thoughts on Love Today (Film)

Posted on December 8, 2022


By Don Corleone

The film Love Today talks about the superficiality of romantic relationships among youngsters of the day. Point to be noted is that it entirely stays away from any sort of comparison with earlier generations’ relationships, which I feel is a positive. Another positive in the film I feel is its entertainment quotient: it scores high there. As a casual viewer, especially if one is in their early 30s or younger, I think the feeling of being entertained would be very high.That aside, looking at the characters, the protagonists, & all the characters for that matter, are pretty straightforward- the leads ‘trust’ each other and look to get married, their parents and peers are simply that, without much characterisation barring the hero’s sister and her fiance, and the heroine’s father. Radhika’s role was not much. The mobile phone is an important character, as it is the window into the depths of the characters’ activities and preferences, and a facilitator to indulge in their unappealing/unpleasant/untrustworthy instincts. The scope of this could have been a separate movie in itself, but is limited to the subject at hand, while digressing a little towards the end.

Talking about trust- that forms the core conflict of the story. I feel that this conflict, and especially in light of the success of the film, gives us insight into the psychology of modern relationships in TN specifically, as all the pop culture references and cultural markers are pretty rooted in TN meme culture and TN urban lifestyle. Having been a part of Tamizh youngsters before and after the internet boom/Jio era, I can see that the commentary here is largely rooted in the perceptions that go about among the larger community. Much of the commentary and the gaze of the film comes from the perspective of single male boys.The difference is the misogyny in the real world is excluded from the screen to some extent, sore points being the boy doubting & questioning the girl about her sexual promiscuity with an ex more than the fact that she lied to him about the meeting in the first place, and also a very marginal tilt towards the boy in not condemning his mistakes with the same ferocity as the girl. But it appears to be very meagre (as compared to other Tamizh cinema). But point to be noted is that the girl seems to have been painted neutrally, without misogyny, as in, she seems to have agency, is not a simp, and gets back at the boy as good as he gives her.Bigger questions here are: 

  1. the actions undertaken by the boys in the name of fun,
  2. the girl lying to the boy about serious stuff like meeting or talking about her ex, or other boys in general,
  3. the boy pursuing/flirting with other girls via questionable means

The sad truth is that in the current generation (being in my mid-20s as well), these are very much prevalent and common practices, and apparently even among people in their 30s, going by peers’ activities.As a college boy, I have seen such fake accounts being used for pranks similar to what is shown in the film, and as shown, also has the possibility of things getting serious.The couple talking to other people or their exes behind each other’s backs is a very common trait- the reasons can be varied. From possessive partners becoming insecure of even harmless conversations, to partners being weak willed or vulnerable to machinations from others(exes, ‘boy-besties’ and newer attractive people, etc.), to simple plain hedging of partners for sexual/social/monetary reasons, motives maybe numerous. These are common b/w boys and girls both. I have had friends whose GFs or they themselves were insecure about conversations with other guys/gals/exes, or simply explored ‘ventures’ other than their partners (despite being in a ‘committed, serious’ relationship) as they were unable to foresee ending up together, even before they broke up!

Now, moving to why this is happening, there are certain reasons :-

  1. Immense Pressure to be Hooked Up: As mentioned elsewhere, people are under two kinds of pressure when not being hooked up- one is the massive FOMO enhanced during bonding with peers and inherent insecurity, second is the questioning from friends as to why, which may lead to ridicule, or questions about sexual orientation(happened with yours truly), or both. So finding partners becomes a compulsory pass-time.
  2. Sense of Not Being Found Out due to Digital Engagement: The digital world provides a world of possibilities, where people are able to indulge their basal urges and impulses without apparent consequences, so normalisation of activities takes place that may otherwise be considered amoral or taboo.
  3. Restrictions in Engagement Between Girls & Boys In TN: This is a massive problem in TN, as I have myself experienced this sort of patriarchal attitude and habits practiced in educational institutions, where they restrict girls and boys from engaging or even sitting together, leading to an objective craving for either sex, which is misunderstood as love and leads to incompatible relationships. This is a huge topic by and of itself.
  4. Heightened Exposure to Sexuality from a Young Age: This is a concern being raised in academic circles as well, about how this can impact psychology and consequently society. Youngsters do not need to actively pursue sources to explore sexuality, as it is being fed to them consciously and unconsciously thru’ various forms of media. Social media indulging unsafe and amoral mediums for this is a huge reason. Another topic that is huge by itself.
  5. Influence of Cinema: Cinema has fed the misinformation among youngsters that all attraction is love, without any nuance, and the massive influence of the same in Tamizh society has led to a misunderstanding of the same. It promotes patriarchal gender dynamics in the public as well.
  6. Modern Society and Lifestyle: A highly populous, capitalist society and lifestyle enables a psychological shift in people where the need to be committed(objectively and subjectively) is not felt, and hence people become disposable. Despite this, it must be noted, that the gender dynamics of modern youngsters remains traditional, as in patriarchal, which is evident in the way preferences for girls.

These reasons enable a better understanding of the film, its huge success, especially among the young audience. As mentioned before, it would also provide an insight into modern relationships and youngsters’ psychology and gender dynamics. Hence, in concurrence with BR, this indeed is an ‘important’ film.