Lights… camera… swap!

What if the directors of some top romantic films switched places? Here’s a lighthearted, admittedly simplistic take on how those stories could have turned out:

Sethu

If directed by: Gautham Menon

Chiyaan may have been a bit of a ruffian in the original, but in Gautham Menon’s universe, he’d be moulded more along the lines of Madhavan’s character in Minnale. He’d claim to be from Aminjikarai, but he’d say that with a twang of sophistication. He’d likely bring hockey sticks to the battleground, and be surrounded by a few good-looking friends, whose dancing ability will come in handy during the peppy Harris Jayaraj songs.

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So you’re telling me that had GVM made Sethu, my life wouldn’t have been a gut-wrenching, soul-crushing tragedy?

It will very much be love at first sight for Chiyaan, as he accidentally meets Abitha… at a coffee shop perhaps. Much like in Sethu, he abducts the girl and takes her to a derelict building somewhere. But he takes great pains to make sure Abitha is thoroughly comfortable and well taken care of. He checks to see that the air-conditioning is working, and ensures Abitha has access to Netflix. He touches her feet now and then in romantic obeisance. Abitha feels more taken care of than she ever has in the comforts of her residence. That’s when Chiyaan surprises her with his guitar skills and raspy singing. Abitha confesses that she too fell in love with him when she first saw him. That’s why she let him abduct her. Chiyaan suffers brain damage in the original, but here, just as the thugs are about to hurt him, the frame freezes. Chiyaan looks at the camera, at us, and says that he’s a trained martial arts expert. That his coach always called him ‘light foot’. End of story.

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa

If directed by: Shankar

Karthik and Jessie don’t just meet on a normal day outside their house. It happens in the aftermath of an earthquake that’s shaken up the locality. Karthik gets talking and realises that Jessie isn’t from Kerala, as he suspected, but from somewhere really exotic and far far away… say Hawaii? When Jessie goes on holiday, there’s time for a song so elaborately and beautifully shot in Hawaii that you’ll never want to go there ever. Nothing you can see in person will compare to the colour-corrected, vfx-enhanced images you see in the song. And of course, it will be the first time anybody has ever shot a movie there.

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“That’s the number of exotic vacations we will go on during the shooting of this film”

Karthik will likely be working on a vfx-heavy film himself; the post-production work keeps him busy and away from Jessie. He makes up for it by sending her a beautiful video of their best moments, all done in vfx. As she begins watching, we cut to a song that likely cost the equivalent of Bhutan’s GDP. Another highlight of the film will be the song that symbolically represents Karthik’s preoccupation with filmmaking. A song that goes something like, ‘Iyukkunare, ennai kan paaraai…’, with Karthik’s filmmaking crew appearing as snakes. Hundreds of belly dancers, dressed in film reels, dance in this song that will likely be shot in the backdrop of Hollywood. There will still be commitment issues plaguing Karthik and Jessie, but nothing that cannot be resolved while on a cruise to an exotic island near the Bermuda Triangle, even as Karthik’s film releases to global international acclaim.

Boys

If directed by: Mani Ratnam

The boys, five of them, hail from different economical backgrounds. After much deliberation with P. C. Sreeram, it gets decided that the five boys get represented by unique colours. They also get their own unique perspective, with the climax being the pivotal point where all their stories clash. The original script gets truncated, as the dialogues get severely chopped. Munna (Siddharth), who’s known for being reticent in the original film, becomes almost mute. Perhaps he even gets disillusioned with music, and steps into student politics.

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From left to right: Juju, Krishna, Munna, Bob Galy, Kumar

Following the release of the film, it gets discovered that Boys is a contemporised version of Mahabharata, that the five boys actually represent the Pandavas. Some critics even point out that Vivek’s character is a masterstroke, as it is a take on Lord Krishna. The film will also be discussed in detail for its deft handling of topics like female empowerment, youth revolution, and caste politics. It will be pointed out that the title of the film, Boys, itself is a scathing critique of the male-centric universe of Mahabharata.

Alaipayuthey

If directed by: Bala

Let us all observe a moment of silence for Karthik and Shakthi first.

Karthik abducts Shakthi very early on, as he’s affronted by what he perceives to be Shakthi friendzoning him, following her rendition of ‘Snehithane’. He poignantly, rather sadomasochistically explains that they ought to marry each other, which somehow convinces Shakthi of his innate goodness. After they elope and begin marital life in a building under construction, we are shown that the house owner has a roving eye. Meanwhile, Karthik’s business is suffering losses, and he has taken to drinking.

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“No, please, don’t tell Bala. If he knows I’m here, he’ll make sure I meet death through ways that will somehow make death feel like relief.”

When he comes home late one day, he discovers that Shakthi has been sexually abused by the house owner. The corrupt police inspector, who they approach for help, assaults Karthik and leaves him bleeding. They go to their parents for help only to realise that both families had committed mass suicides, unable to cope with their eloping. Oh, and Shakthi is also pregnant. Problems escalate between Karthik and Shakthi, and as they are in a full-fledged argument, the house owner tries to take advantage of the situation. In the ensuing bloody fracas, there is much gore, an abortion, a decapitation, and a couple of severed limbs. Shakthi, the last one to die, remembers a line from the opening song, ‘Pachchai Nirame’: “Elaa sivappum undhan kovam, elaa sivappum undhan kovam.” This was always destined to end in blood and rage. She takes her last breath.

This column was written for The New Indian Express. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to this page if you’d like to share it.

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