Defining love is not as simple as consulting a dictionary. For any human being, love continues to be a mystery, as it is a feeling that can never be expressed in certainty. Even the dictionary has several synonyms, ranging from intimacy or affection, to weakness or pure sexual attraction. Chandru’s title card rolls with scenes of some of the best romantic Kannada films, only to tell the audience as to what to look forward to.
In Upendra’s latest movie, I Love You, Santhosh Narayan (played by Upendra) is a business tycoon married to Sonu (Sonu Gowda). The couple has a daughter. In one of the strange twists that fate loves to throw our way, he meets his first love Dharmika (Rachita Ram), who asks him to book a hotel room and keep it private. Santhosh’s friends goad him to make it a memorable night and settle dues of his past. The two meet up and through their conversation, the audience is taken into a flashback of their hey days.
The narration runs back and forth and in the flashback, Dharmika, as a college student, is doing a PhD on ‘love’ and for her thesis, she feels Santhosh is the right person to study. A popular senior in college, Santhosh was commonly known as LD and Dharmika calls him Santhu. To help with her thesis, Dharmika believes she has to study love while Santhosh puts across a more ‘practical’ explanation of the current status of love by highlighting physical attraction, which according to him, is a must. Dharmika, on the other hand, argues that love is divine. While Santhosh believes in the more contemporary version, we see him fall in love with Dharmika unknowingly. But things don’t work out and they part ways.
Whether Santhu will get back to his first love and will Dharmika accept him is the story of the few hours that they spend talking. I Love You, as a film, acts as a reality check on life and love in today’s practical world. Having said that, love always triumphs in the end.
The story is not new and had been told way back by Dr Rajkumar, Manjula and Kalpana in Eradu Kanasu (Two Dreams), which released in 1974. The film, directed by duo Dorai and S Bhagwan, was based on a novel where the hero, despite being in love with a girl, is forced to marry somebody else. How he still broods over his first love and finds it difficult to get along with his wedded wife makes the story. The film was remade in Telugu too.
However, for the Upendra starrer, director R Chandru gives the story a modern makeover, explaining the current approach to love. The director falls back on familiar territory and has come up with a very basic story that has predictable consequences. A love story, that filmmakers across the world have been peddling since time immemorial, interestingly, has a cast that makes this film work.
The director could not have found a better actor than Upendra to talk on ‘love’. The actor pulls off both roles, a college student and a business tycoon, with elan and class. A gentle reminder that he is an expert on acting as well as love, a popular theme for the actor’s directorial ventures. Upendra’s signature style gives a classic touch to this romantic drama, while making it youthful as well. Of course, his dialogues and dance moves keeps the audience connected to the storyline.
Refreshingly, I Love You is a film that gives equal importance to the heroine and Rachita Ram equally shines through with a meaty role. As Dharmika, she, and Upendra, bring the script to life and the two share good on-screen chemistry. Even though Sonu Gowda shares less screen space, she manages to make her presence felt. Her character gives us a slice of life as something that can never fade away.
Music for I Love You is scored by Kiran Thotambyle, Indra K M, and Aria Dakshinand, where every song blends into the story. However, in case of the much talked-about track Maatanaadi Maayavade, the backdrop to the seductive song is to the point and situational. Sugnaan’s cinematography style is noticeable in parts, especially the greenbelt. The DOP comes up with a pleasing picturisation, even with the highlighting of certain brands in the backdrop.
The film ends with the husband walking in to meet his wife, armed with a bunch of red roses and a solitaire ring. He places this on his wife’s hand and says ‘I Love You’. This scene has the audience, including many Upendra fans, erupt into cheer.
Director R Chandru
Cast Upendra, Rachita Ram and Sonu Gowda