Celebrating the essence of  ‘Idhayathai Yedho Ondru’ from ‘Yennai Arindhaal’…

The write-up works best when it’s read with the song playing in the background.

– Mani Prabhu

You all know that girl who is strikingly elegant, sensible and strong-willed. You all do. You tend to see her around. Only that, at times, you don’t notice. That girl from the third floor who seems to have it all together – the unassuming yet no-nonsense demeanour and the deadly charm? The one from your college with all the designer clothes and bags, but yet, casual, modest and surprisingly amiable? The next door soft-spoken acquaintance who doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind, when put in a situation? The lady at the adjacent desk in office, who stands up for her convictions with grace, and fights for it? Or some fond memories of the girl you used to know – the one who lives ‘life’ her way, and not how the world wants her to.

Or it might just be you.

But for our context here, let’s call her Thenmozhi.

Thenmozhi is a team lead in a software firm, when she first meets Sathyadev on her flight back to Chennai from Boston. She is puking away to glory – her head buried inside a paper bag – when this guy, a complete stranger probably in his late thirties, intervenes to ask if she’s doing okay. The trick works alright, but the moment she sees him, it’s almost like an epiphany. You know when you meet someone for the first time, and it feels electric? You doubt if you were always destined to meet? It’s that.

And soon, she gets a little high-strung. She hurriedly goes to the restroom to freshen up. She is totally floored. And she knows it. They talk quite a bit, but with every other response, his appeal only seems to escalate. “Who is this guy who has suddenly stormed into my small world? But for god’s sake, I don’t even know him. Love in the times of nausea? Why me?” she laments. She tries to distract herself and fails badly. She wants to know if her hormones are merely on a wishful bungee-jump, or this intrigue runs much deeper – something worthy of a lifelong friendship.

Learning that he is a cop, she follows him into a coffee shop. She admits right up front that she is smitten. “I need to answer my instincts. I have this gut feel that you would make for an awesome friend. We will know it in a single date. If we can hit it off… a few more coffee dates might tell us if the relationship is worth pursuing. Would you come with me for a tall glass of coffee and some pointless banter?”

The candour of the moment is like dynamite. But, if only… meeting your dream partner, falling in mad love, and finding true compatibility were all as simple as that? She just stares ahead when Sathyadev tells her that he is married, but is living only with his daughter. Living in separation? Divorced? An adopted child? But how?  A barrage of questions flood her, but she doesn’t get any of her answers till he takes her home.

When the nine-year-old Isha opens the door, Sathya asks her if Thenmozhi could stay with them for a while. “Of course, pa!” The element of lovable snappiness in her tone completes her tacit statement. “Do you even have to ask!” She doesn’t say it, but we can see it in Isha’s eyes. She welcomes the lady inside with the broadest of smiles. Obviously, she is feeling happy about something. Thenmozhi takes a few hesitant steps inside, caught between her conflicting pangs of reasoning and a million other emotions associated with a confused attraction. She is nervous. And it shows. Sathyadev asks her to feel at home, and tells Isha to show her around.

Thenmozhi is still in a daze. A little girl in the home of her first love. Oh, wow! Unable to give any finite form to her exploding thoughts, she struts around, glancing at a few trophies and keepsakes. When she stops at a framed picture, Isha immediately walks to her side and attempts some small talk. As they chat over the photos, Thenmozhi feels a lot more relaxed. And right then, it hits her like a wave. A couple of moments back, wasn’t she literally in jitters? The girl, barely ten, had helped her loosen up and breathe easy. Her mind is still riddled with doubts. But something is making her grin, and even blush a little. As she slowly gets a hold over the staggering aura, she begins to look around the compact house, trying to second-guess this man’s mysterious past.

She is beckoned to the dining table by Isha and asked to take a seat. The small girl’s congenial beam touches a raw nerve somewhere within. If you’ve ever experienced love, you would know what I am talking about… when I say that you would feel it when you have it – a kind of clueless ‘high’. Something about the setting was pulling at her heart-strings, albeit with a palpable discordance. Is this love? Or just the joy of being around a household that appeared to truly care? What more is waiting for her? She wantonly seems to give in to the spell, not attempting to hold back in any way. How justified is that?

இதயத்தை ஏதோ ஒன்று இழுக்குது கொஞ்சம் நின்று
இதுவரை இதுபோலே நானும் இல்லையே!
கடலலை போலே வந்து கரைகளை அள்ளும் ஒன்று
முழுகிட மனதும் பின் வாங்கவில்லையே!

As Thenmozhi browses through Isha’s books, they strike up a bond and laugh over seeming trivia. Have you ever felt an instant connection with a person that hinted at an inexplicable something – like there was definitely something between the two – that you knew you had to explore further? You savour some thing in their presence. You sense fireworks within. “What am I feeling with his kid? Is it in some way related to her father? Can I trust my instincts to know what I should be pursuing? Why do I keep connecting all these to my happiness? Why does it feel like my chest could burst open any moment? Like something in it is trying to escape my soul? What has this twenty minutes with a seemingly unknown kid done to years of apparent clarity?” Any attempt at reasoning comes out as incessant smiles, as Thenmozhi tries her best to live the moment.

இருப்பது ஒரு மனது இதுவரை அது எனது
என்னைவிட்டு மெதுவாய் அது போக கண்டேனே!

Sathyadev returns to the dining room to see the two girls having their moments. Thenmozhi turns to catch a glimpse, and their eyes meet for a split-second. She once again can’t resist that strange feel of having known this person for ages. She simpers, but inside, a storm is raging. The world around seemed to vanish into thin air . She can hardly speak. It all feels like a dream. Talk about an excited state, so strange and surreal that you crave to linger in it a little longer, just to see what happens down the lane?

Thenmozhi is in it now, her fascination probably stemming out of a mishmash of romance, warmth and respect. And she doesn’t want it to end. Sathya walks over and sits besides Isha, starting a casual conversation. A faint blush descends on her face as he turns to his daughter and strokes her hair. She is amazed at the chemistry between the dad and the kid. But why is that driving her crazy? A dream within a dream? Is that what it is? If not, how does it make sense? But then, why make sense?

இது ஒரு கனவு நிலை
கரைத்திட விரும்ப வில்லை
கனவுக்குள் கனவாய் என்னை நானும் கண்டேனே!

Sathyadev proceeds to the kitchen, leaving Thenmozhi and Isha alone again. Thenmozhi manages a clumsy smile when asked her preference for dinner. That’s the least she could do when she is wrestling her own alter-ego. Would he stay till the end? But then, does she really know what she wants from him? Is her adulation leading on to something worthy of all the madness?

எனக்கென்ன வேண்டும் என்று
ஒரு வார்த்தை கேளு நின்று
இனி நீயும் நானும் ஒன்று
என சொல்லும் நாளும் என்று?

Isha closes her books, signals to her that she would be in the kitchen helping her dad, and rushes behind him. Thenmozhi looks at the two from the dining room – trying her best to conceal her awe – as the little girl helps his dad knead the dough. “Finally, a moment to myself!” Thenmozhi sighs as she continues watching. It’s getting harder to explain now. “Do I need someone who’s perfect; Or do I need someone who’s perfect for me and my sensibilities. Pause. Breathe. Don’t I need someone who would help me see through my self ? Is Sathya the one? Is he my soul mate?”

Lost in deliberations, she strolls to the kitchen to help Sathyadev. But he convinces her to get back and wait for the food to be served. She returns to the dining table with a sheepish grin, staring at the image of Sathya making rotis that are being rolled by Isha. And now, she feels it. And its irresistible. A mad urge to go down on her knees, that freaking moment, and confess everything. Oh wait, what stupidity? Or is it? Isha turns around from inside the kitchen and flashes a cheerful smile. “What is stopping me from making it clear? The weirdness that is slowly consuming my mind. Would it be too drastic? Would I come across as too desperate? Is it better to wait and let things happen, going with the flow? What if it doesn’t happen again?” Her head is brimming with doubts that she can neither answer nor ignore.

மலர்களை அள்ளி வந்து மகிழ்வுடன் கையில் தந்து
மனதினை பகிர்ந்திடவே ஆசை கொள்கின்றேன்.
தடுப்பது என்ன என்று தவிக்குது நெஞ்சம் இன்று
நதியினில் இலை என நான் தோய்ந்து செல்கின்றேன்.

அரும்புகள் பூவாகும் அழகிய மாற்றம்
ஆயிரம் ஆண்டாக பழகிய தோற்றம்!

Soon after dinner, the two girls sit for a talk in the hall, when Isha tells Thenmozhi about her mom Hemanika, and Sathya not being her biological father. How much of a revelation can one take in a day? As Thenmozhi struggles with her inner demons, she is lead into another room. She watches in a trance, framed photos of Hemanika with Isha in her growing years, and one clicked on the eve of the scheduled wedding.

There is no melodrama when Isha, pointing at a portrait of Hemanika, reveals that her mom was killed that night. “I have my dad, who is everything to me. And I am happy” You could see through the glimmer of hope in Isha’s eyes. Thenmozhi breaks down inside for a few moments, but quickly recovers to conceal her mixed vibes. But she knows something now. She has fallen for Sathya irreversibly.Things are much clearer. It is, indeed, love.

Sathya tucks Isha in bed, switches off the lights and enters the hall, closing the door behind him. As Thenmozhi and Sathya chat for a while, they share a couple of light-hearted moments. Quite unexpected, to be frank. She is now damn sure that there might be something between them, at least in the future. Again, it’s hard to explain, how and why she felt it.

You would know if you are Thenmozhi.

You would feel a force… You would feel it pulling you, as if you are metal being pulled to a magnet. And you can’t resist it. It’s not physical attraction for sure. It’s something deeper that you can’t put to words… that you willfully dive into, somehow believing that it’s worth the fall.

As they say, love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.

Written and directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon.

Lyrics by Thamarai.

Music by Harris Jayaraj.

Sung by Chinmayi.

Filmed by Dan Macarthur

Anushka Shetty as Thenmozhi.

Ajith Kumar as Sathyadev.

Baby Anikha as Isha.

Trisha Krishnan as Hemanika.

A version of this piece was initially published in www.madaboutmoviez.com.