Ispade Rajavum Idhaya Raniyum review: A complicated romance that doesn’t pretend to be anything else

Right from the word go, you know that Ispade Rajavum Idhaya Raniyum is not about people who are politically correct. We are introduced to Gautham (a powerfully convincing Harish Kalyan), who is searching for his lost soul in the mountains. And we are let into his introspection, as he ponders over his relationship with his Idhaya Rani. Gautham wears his baggage on the sleeve. It doesn’t take much to realise that he is broken, bearing the brunt of trauma. He swings between extremes, has temperament issues. But Ranjith Jeyakodi calls a spade, a spade. There is no glorification of Gautham’s toxic masculinity — an errant dialogue comes from a friend who changes her mind later. Right from his friends to Tara (Shilpa Manjunath), everyone knows Gautham is difficult. So do we, and that makes IRIR an extremely important film.

For the most part, IRIR is rooted in a real world full of flawed people. Gautham has friends who spew questionable advice, but they are there during the tough times. An ‘absent’ father who wisens up over the years. Tara meets Gautham in questionable circumstances, but she chooses to see beyond. She romanticises the violence, at first.  (aided by Sam CS’s electrifying score) Now is that ideal for her, not really. But can it happen? Yes. It is a problematic relationship that she chooses to enter. She wants to save him; she thinks she can do so. But does that make it easy? Again, not really.

IRIR is a problematic romance and also in a unique way, a coming-of-age story. Why I would rather have an IRIR, rather than say, an Arjun Reddy, is that it shows problems as they are. It shows people as they are. Somehow in the corner, there is still respect and consent. And where there isn’t, someone calls it out — bold and loud. Nobody shames the woman, the victim. Stalking is given a definition. If IRIR troubles you, think why. Is it just because we are shown people who are politically incorrect? What makes us uncomfortable with characters who aren’t easily comprehensible?

I’ll tell you what disturbed me about IRIR. Gautham’s healing process. Gautham’s sense of clarity comes out of nowhere, as a blessing in disguise, that pulls him out of the violent coping mechanism he has built for himself. For a film that took care to ensure that it is painted with reality, this seemed a bit off. Finding light through the darkness isn’t as easy as one thinks. I wish he had gotten some help of sorts, that puts him on the course to recovery. Also, we see why Gautham is drawn towards Tara. She is the inexplicable ball of light in his solemn, somber world. He says as much as well. But what does Tara see in Gautham? How does it go beyond the initial attraction? What fuels her confusion? To know that, we needed to see more of Gautham’s good days, if you know what I mean. It was probably because of this that the climax felt like a fairytale ending strapped to a complicated love story.

But all said and done, it doesn’t demerit the perspective that Ranjit Jeyakodi has given us — that love isn’t always aspirational. We are problematic people with problematic lives. What works for one, will not work for another. IRIR makes you think and what can be a better start than introspection?

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