Jaanu from Premkumar-Vijay Sethupathi-Trisha’s 96

I finally watched #96 and I am not going to talk about the exquisite mood piece that it is, beautifully performed with enchanting music and cinematography. Rather, I want to talk about how Jaanu behaves; how her behaviour is a reflection of how we deal with bittersweet memories from the yore.

Sometime back, I read a short story where the author had described memories taking form of boxes that are safely lodged outside the shelves of our brains. Situations serve us a box, covered in fine dust, from time to time; least when we expect it.

What do we do then? We dust it off, open the box and relive the moments. Remember the warm moment and bask in the mellow glow of nostalgia. Follow the waves of emotion that tease us, push us back and pull us forward, and leaves us at the shore of ‘what-ifs’. What if things had ended differently, where would I be now? Whom would I be with? The indulgence begins. At some point, we are forced back to reality, where we draw parallels to reassure our bruised souls. ‘I haven’t ended up in a very bad situation now, have I?’; ‘I’m still doing okay.’ When these boxes get too close for comfort, you shut it out. Close your eyes and leave, before you get pulled in beyond the point of sanity. Over the time, the box gets additions — newer information. We tuck them away again until something else, or someone else brings it out and hands it to us.

Jaanu for me was a personification of a memory that one can never forget. Her entry is, similarly, unexpected. She sweeps Ram back into the past, placing him in the corridors of their memories. There’s reluctance, nostalgia, questioning, indulging in what-ifs, struggle with adieu and finally, addition of newer colours to the has-been.

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