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‘Bachelor’ movie review: A labyrinthine romantic tale that tries to delineate love from lust

GV Prakash and Divyabharathi in ‘Bachelor’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Sathish Selvakumar’s debut, Bachelor, begins with a laugh riot. We see a guy, living in a typically-messy bachelor pad, giving an online interview in formal shirt and boxers. It is night. He sits outside, perhaps not to disturb his sleeping roommates. But one of them, sloshed, wakes up, opens the door and starts unzipping his pants, thinking it is the restroom. The interviewee helplessly tries to send him away. But the roommate continues to unzip, with the shocked friend still watching, and pees on the laptop. This roommate is our protagonist, Darling (GV Prakash Kumar).

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Idle and irresponsible youth is not new to Tamil cinema. But instead of employing a lazy narrator’s voice-over that says something along the lines of “Ivar dhaanga namma kadhai oda hero; onna number somberi (this is our story’s hero; he’s a number one sloth)” that we have heard in many comedies, Sathish prefers to show Darling’s idleness and irresponsibility. When his friend laments to the rest of the gang about how he ruined his interview, Darling lazily takes a tumbler of tea and soaks in four biscuits, stirs it with a spoon and slowly eats it as the wet Macbook from the previous night hangs on the clothesline. The laughs are not just in the lines, they are in the visuals as well.

The scenes also move along unhurriedly, reflecting the protagonist’s perspective. The director employs a lot of close-ups and slow-motion shots, for instance, to show the preparation of chicken biryani in one scene and sweet pongal in another. These leisurely paced slice-of-life scenes, accompanied by a delightful background score, also make the film seem more real.

By now, we know that Darling is hardly aware of anything else apart from his own needs. He and his gang of close-knit friends from Coimbatore work at an IT firm in Bangalore. When he meets Subbu (Divyabharathi), a coworker and his friend’s flatmate, he immediately desires her. He coaxes the friend to let him stay in their flat. When the friend and his partner goes abroad, he comes home, with an expectation to sleep with Subbu and, well, a condom.

Subbu, however, does not like him initially. Darling pursues her. It is convenient for him that they both work at the same office and stay in the same flat. He does not have to stalk her. At one point, she asks him if he is in love with her. After a pregnant pause, Darling says no.

But when she falls sick, he takes care of her, which makes her like him... and then at some point, they get physically intimate. The intimacy is not always shown through the perspective of the guy thankfully, and we even get a shot of her kissing his feet (I laughed, thinking about a particular Tamil filmmaker; you know who).

Bachelor
  • Director: Sathish Selvakumar
  • Cast: GV Prakash, Divyabharathi, Bagavathi Perumal, Munishkanth
  • Storyline: An irresponsible youngster gets into a relationship with a girl he desires... and eventually things unravel dramatically

It is also rare and refreshing for women characters in a Tamil film to not be shy about sex. We witness a game of Never Have I Ever, where a girl casually says, “Never have I ever masturbated four times in a day”. At this point, a male character takes four back-to-back shots. And, the hall I was in, erupted.

Meanwhile, Subbu and Darling continue their relationship for several months... until she gets pregnant. The drama peaks at this juncture. She wants to keep the child. He does not. He calls it an accidental, unnecessary pregnancy, which needs immediate abortion. Even as she tells him in anger that she can take care of it without his support, he insists on abortion.

After this mid-way point, the film transforms from a romantic comedy to a relationship feud. But this quickly turns into a courtroom drama, when she informs her family about the relationship. Her brother-in-law, a criminal lawyer, decides to avenge not just Darling, but also his family (his mother, sister, and brother-in-law) because Darling insults him over a call.

The women in the film, including Subbu, seem like mere pawns in the court case that follows. Subbu is shown to feel bad for dragging Darling’s mother and sister to the court. But she is helpless in front of her aggressive brother-in-law.

Things get more convoluted and the screenplay turns somewhat messy. You also get a feeling that the film’s main characters are pushed to the background; we hardly get to see Subbu in the second half, and don’t know how or what she feels.

By the time we arrive at the climax to all this drama, you feel more relieved at the movie ending than cheer for its female lead’s deserving— yet fleeting — moment of empowerment.

Bachelor is currently running in theatres


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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 3:02:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/bachelor-movie-review-a-labyrinthine-romantic-tale-that-tries-to-delineate-love-from-lust/article37825238.ece

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