Ye Maaya Chesave: Love, Pain and Magic
Dear Gautham Vasudev Menon,
I saw your film ‘Ye Maya Chesave’ on February 26th and I must say that it has deeply disturbed me ever since! But before you conclude that this is yet another review, allow me to put forth my case.
On February 26th, 2010 I ran to the preview screening of ‘Ye Maya Chesave’ in a dazed state with less than 3 hours of sleep. And after those 160 minutes, something hit me so hard that I couldn’t come back to my senses for almost a week. As I look back and try to understand what had happened, I find more questions than answers. At the end of the day, the only question I ask myself again and again is, ‘How could Gautham make such a film which is so disturbing and haunting at the same time?’
It’s been almost 19 days since I first saw the film. Although, I watched the film again few days ago, I must confess that the first viewing blew me away. The second viewing cemented the fact that I realized that it’s a flawless film. As a film critic by profession, I wrote this review @123telugu, yet I knew that I couldn’t articulate what I had seen on screen. In fact, I would go a step further and say, no review can ever come close to the sheer magic that you created in ‘Ye Maya Chesave’. I know that you have been appreciated almost universally and the three page letter from K.Balachander is perhaps the most endearing appreciation a film maker of your stature could ever ask for. But then, allow me to add few more feathers to your cap, if at all my words hold any value!
After a long time, I was so immersed in a film that I didn’t see Naga Chaitanya or Samantha on screen. I followed the lives of Karthik and Jessie. My primary focus was on how would, a 22 year old (Karthik), behave in such circumstances! The characterization that you wrote for Karthik was perhaps the first of many reasons why I was completely smitten by the film. A mechanical engineering graduate, who wants to be a film maker, is ridiculed by his neighbours over his choice of profession. When I saw that, I wanted to scream, ‘That’s Me’! Although, I don’t want to make films (yet), I know that it’s perhaps the next leap for me. Naga Chaitanya as Karthik was incredible. I have been blamed of sucking up to the star kid and trying to please all the fans by a certain individual on Twitter, just because I described Naga Chaitanya’s performance as ‘incredible’. Despite all the criticism I have and will endure for my views, I will stick to my perspective. I liked Naga Chaitanya because he’s so vulnerable. People may call him as a terrible actor because he isn’t flamboyant, dance, deliver punch lines or have a great screen presence like other heroes in Telugu Cinema. Yet, he was incredible in the film and perhaps that’s exactly how a 22 year old would behave. He’s smitten by the girl, gets excited when she smiles at him, and goes bonkers when she confesses her love and nuts when she breaks off! I don’t see a reason why I can find fault with him. That’s perhaps how a lot of 22 year olds are these days.
On the other hand, thank you for introducing Samantha to Telugu film industry. I was so smitten that I must have talked about her incessantly for over a week. What made her so interesting was how slowly Jessie reveals her feelings towards Karthik. Her mood swings were well written and Samantha enacts them really well. The conversations in Alleppey, the coffee shop, cinema hall, the duo’s house in Hyderabad, over the phone and a park in US were genuine. So genuine that I could finally make sense of what do couples talk about incessantly for hours together! Some of them have found a mysterious way to speak in decibel levels which only dogs can decipher. Pun intended! Samantha was gorgeous and Chinmayi’s voice was divine. AR Rahman’s music haunts me till this day and perhaps will for some more time. My favourite song in the film is ‘Vintunnava’, it really has some beautiful prose and poetry. Manoj Paramahamsa’s cinematography was beautiful. Also, I must point out that Nalini Sriram (Costume Designer) has done a fabulous job. After a long time, a very long time, I came across a character who was well-dressed. The costumes were so good that they added more life to Jessie (especially the ‘Orange’ saree, Jessie wears in the first half). It’s hard to believe that a 24 year old would wear sarees these days to office, but then it’s your film. You are the king!
I must confess that I have never come across an exact replica of ‘Jessie’ in my life, but yes, there have been close encounters. ‘Ye Maya Chesave’ instantly transported to an autumn evening in 2003, when I was smitten by a girl in college. I had no idea if I was in love with her, yet my heart would skip a beat every time I see her. After sometime, nothing happened. Few years later, on a spring day, I was smitten again. I had no idea if I was in love with this girl, yet I knew that something had happened to me. One fine day, I came across a quote that ‘Love is transient’ and I totally believed that. After all these years, ‘Ye Maya Chesave’ made me to think over those incidents of my past. Did I do something wrong? Why didn’t I do something more? Could things be any different if I had tried a bit harder? Oh boy…now you know why I was so smitten by the film.
The biggest strength of your film was that it blurred the thin line between real and reel life. I have hardly come across instances where I could identify myself with a character in films these days and your film did that trick for me. It’s hard for me to be objective about the film and no matter what people are going to say about the film, it will remain as one of the best romantic films I have seen. Every love story has a beginning and (perhaps) an ending. Mine has neither. Yet, I find myself hopelessly in love with…I don’t even know whom. I wonder if such a state is even possible where you have no idea whom you are in love with. Yet, everything about life, your surroundings, people you know seems wonderful. If this ain’t love then what is? Ohh…Gautham Menon, what have you done to me! I had no idea that your film would disturb me so much!
I have no idea what or how women think. I have been struggling to understand this for years now. Thank you for trying to portray a woman’s thoughts on screen for dumbos (!) like me. It reiterates the fact that ‘Love has got nothing to do with Fate or Destiny’. It’s just ‘Pure Coincidence’, a theory which I learnt after watching ‘500 Days of Summer’. Now, I have aligned my ideology that ‘Love is transient and purely coincidental’. Yet, I can’t help but hating you for making me feel so miserable about not being in love at the moment. Wait…but I think I have always been in love. No, that’s not the case…ahh, what am I saying? What the F&#*ing logic is this? This is F&#*ing unbelievable and unfair!
After the second time of watching ‘Ye Maya Chesave’, I promised myself that I would never watch the film again. The film sucked me to a world which I had left behind. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. As I sit back and brood upon all those incidents, I reckon that these so called coincidences are bound to repeat. After all, I think I have been smitten too many times in the past few years. And I believe it will continue to happen in future.
That’s all I have I to say, now you know why you film has disturbed me so much! Contrary to what I have promised myself, I think I will watch it over and over again. And feel miserable for being alone. As you say, sometimes, ‘A one way ticket to heart-break city and the pain associated with it’ is a magical experience that I want to endure all over again.