Arranged Marriages are like dark clouds looming over the heads of self-respecting single people in their mid to late 20s. There's a degree of helplessness about letting parents find the "right" partner, but there's also this sense of inevitability attached to it. Spending a lifetime with someone you know well is itself a frightful prospect; doing the same with a total stranger is most likely to be worse. But it has been happening all around us and most marriages seem to tick. "Kalyana Samayal Saadham" is the story of a girl of "marriageable age" and a boy with a sick grandparent, who are gently nudged into matrimony by their parents.
This is not a film where the man and the woman discover their platinum day of love a year after the wedding. Here are two people who have been hitched by the family, trying to find reasons to fall for each other. Meera Chandrasekaran (Lekha Washington) and Raghu Vishwanathan (Prasanna) start "dating" after getting engaged, but it's not until Raghu's kind, albeit overly dramatic, gesture to help his would-be father-in-law from a sticky situation that he wins Meera's heart. They're just a couple of months away from the wedding and they couldn't be happier. Right on cue, we learn about Raghu's inability to perform in bed.
Thankfully, the film is not too uptight about dealing with a problem which is inarguably delicate. It finds the right balance between humor and earnestness. Besides helping him find a solution to the problem, Raghu's friends (who are all very memorable) continue to pull his leg because that's what friends do. From dubious quacks, sleazeball gemologists to reputed sexologists, they leave no options unchecked. The film creates this problem to see how it impacts Raghu and Meera's relationship. It surely hurts them but the characters are so matured about it that it makes the film all the more fascinating.
In a scene where the film reaches its emotional peak, a dozen negligible resentments build up and come to the fore ensuing an argument. A seemingly broad-minded Raghu plays the 'we-didn't-make-any-demands' card in the middle of an argument, accusing Meera of being ungrateful and thankless. She calls him a mama's boy who is unable to stand up for her and himself, going on to call him something truly hurtful. It's striking how the argument slowly keeps blowing bigger and bigger before things get said in the heat of the moment which cannot be taken back. At that moment, I asked myself if I wanted these two to make up and be happy. The answer was a yes, and I think that is exactly what this film was going for.
If there is one movie that gets the upper middle class Tambrahm family setting right, it is "Kalyana Samayal Saadham". Instead of stereotypical caricatures who eat vadu-maanga/thayir-saadham and say stuff like "Aathuku varela?", characters, here, are given these tiny traits which you instantly recognize. Like that one scene where you can clearly see inner vest sticking out from under Meera's brother's tee shirt. I mean, damn! I have Iyer friends who are just like that. In another scene, at a party, Raghu's friend asks Meera whether her friend went to the KK Nagar branch of PSBB or to the Main School. It's so heartening to such a pakka Chennai film with these esoteric jokes which someone like me can privately relish.
One of my few gripes with the film is the presence of a few vile aunties who are too intent to spread malice. They leave a bad taste in the mouth and the film could have done without those conspicuously negative elements. But on the other hand, it does good Raghav's NRI character. There are minor structural issues near the end as the film, which was mostly rooted in reality, took a rather filmy turn. It might work for you, but I found it a bit too syrupy. Call me old fashioned but the traditional wedding was infinitely more beautiful compared to the one in the middle of nowhere.view less