Pradeep Ranganathan’s ‘Love Today’, written and aimed at young adults and college cohorts, is mostly entertaining and achieves what it sets out to, even at the cost of flab in writing and plain performances

Do you ever truly know someone? Isn’t there a side in all of us that we are always shielding from the outside? Trust is the foundation of any relationship; it is the DNA that binds a romantic relationship. But how much are you willing to trust? You might know your partner a little too well. Yet, there is always a curiosity to know more that sometimes it borderlines into misplaced trust. In the age of smartphones, aren’t we all victims of knowing too little? This curiosity to know more takes the shape of a dramatic plot point in Pradeep Ranganathan’s Love Today. Although I would strongly argue that his short film on which this film is based, was the better film.

We see a boy sucking out the sweet juice of mango in the opening scene that ends with the boy planting the seed, waiting for it to germinate into a full-grown tree. It cuts to a video of a smartphone being manufactured in a lab before it comes to the retail store. Now we see the smartphone lying in the store yet to be taken, when a customer asks for it. The customer opens the selfie camera and only now do we get to see the man’s face. I liked the idea behind establishing the ‘seed’ of Love Today. The man is Uthaman Pradeep (Pradeep Ranganathan) and the smartphone is a gift for his girlfriend Nikita (Ivana). 

The film gets going when Nikita’s father Venu Sastri (Sathyaraj plays Cupid, but rather ends up a matchbreaker). Sastri gives his consent to marriage only if they agree to a test: to exchange their smartphones for a day. You get the drift of what happens. Old flames reappear and old wounds are reopened. Like Pradeep’s debut film Comali, Love Today too is pulpy at the idea-level. About the former, I had written in my review: “ Comali has a wacky idea that not only needed better writing, but better staging too. The writing is uneven and that is matched with Pradeep’s ingenious way of eliciting humour from the simplest things.”


Tamil director Pradeep Ranganathan on ‘Love Today’, turning actor, and the evolving nature of romance

When it gets going, that is in the first half, Love Today is quite fun to watch and is backed by Yuvan Shankar Raja’s energetic score. This film can be taken as an example of screenwriting that is devoid of any form, but punctuated by an array of scenes that are so silly that you end up liking them. Even the writing comes across as a string of memes painfully-collected and stitched together, in a bid to satisfy the consumers of these memes in the first place. But you cannot question all this; the 2K Kids are liking it.

There is an inexplicable sense of plasticity in Uthaman and Nikita’s idea of romance; they talk and behave like strangers jamming on Smule. Pradeep draws humour from the awkward situations, when they find out about the juicy things they may have done in the past. Some work, like the gag about Jayam Ravi and Revi. Most don’t; sexual and non-sexual advances women receive from men are made fun of. When the role is reversed, it is presented as gethu. But you shouldn’t say all this — the 2K Kids are enjoying it.

There are two superb moments that show the traits of a director at the helm: one involves Yogi Babu and the other mirrors with Uthaman’s childhood as a boy, when he digs deeper out of curiosity.

Love Today is a film that comes from a place of convenience: both Uthaman and Nikita have a past of their own. And yet, it looks like they remain beautifully sexless in them. Director Pradeep conveniently dodges this facet of relationships and the film suffers from its own naivety. Alright, I get it. You don’t walk into Love Today expecting these questions answered, as long as its purpose — as a harmless comedy — has been served. But is that too much to expect? For a film that claims to be about modern-day relationships, you scratch your head thinking if there is anything modern. But you cannot complain — the 2K Kids are entertained.