Movies

SR: Have you heard of the Celebrity Death Rule of Threes? It talks about how if one star dies, two more tend to follow. But now, it looks like we need to formulate a new theory for celebrity divorces — there have been at least half a dozen in recent times. I was at a family function recently, and all people wanted to know from me was what exactly went wrong in these marriages. As film reporters, are we expected to know the nitty-gritties of a star’s personal life?

VM: It’s the same everywhere I go these days too. I agree it’s ‘breaking’ news, but they ask me about these divorces like they’d ask a sports reporter about Ashwin’s secret carrom ball or a science correspondent whether life is indeed possible on Jupiter’s moon.

SR: Though we take writing so seriously, it hurts at times to know that a celebrity divorce article will be bigger than any film story out there. But I guess gossip sells…

VM: Exactly. No matter how hard you work to write about an actor’s impressive performance or a director’s deft handling of a sensitive subject, we need to come to terms with the fact that their divorce is going to outsell any of it. I don’t get the point…what’s the big deal anyway?

SR: I think it shows people how fallible they are… just like you and me. Celebrities are human too, despite the unfathomable heights at which society places them.

VM: Have you noticed how a celebrity divorce is twice as ‘juicy’ when both parties are stars… like Brangelina or Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes?

SR: Oh yes, that’s the case here too. You have so many recent examples: Amala Paul-Vijay, Lissy-Priyadarshan... It makes you wonder how tough it must be to lead a real life off reel.

VM: I have one more theory. I think the curiosity stems from desire. Take the case of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They were arguably the most desirable people in the world. I feel everyone nurses some sort of secret jealousy that they were with each other, but their divorce suddenly makes them feel ‘attainable’ again, however far-fetched that may seem.

SR: Hmm… Marriage, as a concept, might just work differently in the case of a celebrity. When someone unconnected to the film industry marries a star, they’d better realise that gossip, intimate scenes, and long outdoor schedules are occupational hazards. Acting is no IT or bank job.

VM: Honestly, I don’t think filmmakers themselves have helped the cause. I can’t remember too many films that have destigmatised divorce. Name one hero who has played the role of a divorcee in Tamil cinema?

SR: Wasn’t Kamal a divorcee in Avvai Shanmughi?

VM: But his only objective in the film was to get back with his wife and kid. So that doesn’t really count. In contrast, aren’t there dozens of films that portray divorce as the ‘The End’?

SR: I read this line once: ‘Divorce isn’t a tragedy. A tragedy is staying in an unhappy marriage.’

VM: Aha, I see that you’re still subscribing to that ‘Quote of the Day’ mailer...

SR: Poda. But I get your point about how films show divorce. Aren’t there exceptions, though?

VM: Didn’t you catch Aandavan Kattalai? It portrayed divorce sessions so realistically without treating it like an impending disaster. It even has cheeky subtext about how a divorce can be the beginning of something beautiful.

SR: I loved the court sequences in which an old man claims that he’s in line for his fourth divorce!

VM: Do you think we’ll ever watch a Tamil film in which a big hero, playing a divorcee, tries his hand at love again? Why don’t we see more films in which people have remained friends, even after divorce? For instance, in the Malayalam film Spirit, Mohanlal’s best friends are his ex-wife and her husband. Even Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, however convoluted, treated divorce like it’s righting a wrong.

SR: You seem to have been thinking about this a lot. Why don’t you sit down and write a movie on divorce?

VM: I will… (phone rings) That’s my wife. Got to go da.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 1:25:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/article14969632.ece

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