The proverbial saying that likens relationships to a string which snaps when strung too tight, but needs more than a feather-like touch might now seem clichéd. Such sayings are popular for how they tend to come back to your life with a renewed meaning; a fresh understanding that was previously lost in its simplicity.
Yuvaraj Dhayalan’s film Irugapatru (Hold Tight) feels like one such quote that tells us something universal, and gives the comfort of familiarity with a teeny bit more. The film takes the cases of three couples — conveniently from different age groups and economic backgrounds — with characters that are emotionally just where they need to be, for Yuvaraj to make his points and do a balancing act of sorts. The screenplay walks a tight rope with scenes from each of the three stories sequenced progressively.
For IT professional Rangesh (Vidharth), his wife Pavithra’s (Abarnathi) weight gain post-childbirth is a serious problem. He abhors the sight of his wife lying beside him, and since they have a nanny/maid, her laziness and overeating needs to be ‘blamed’. But what lies underneath all that, within the walls of their humble world, is a painful issue you might see in relationships all around you.
Arjun (Sri) and Divya (Saniya Iyappan) are a 20-something couple conflicted with each other’s differences in lifestyle, expression and love languages. Arjun struggles to wrap his head around his wife’s ‘falling out of love’ with him, while Divya is petrified to even come home to her husband, once the love of her life. Him losing his cool in an instant and her breakdowns are all symptoms of something that’s been going on for too long.
So when it all comes crashing down, Arjun and Pavithra find their way to the clinic of Mithra Manohar (Shraddha Srinath), a marriage counsellor who calls a spade a spade, and imbues empathy in everything she says. She sends Arjun and Pavithra back to their worlds with a lot of pondering, but asks them to persuade their partners to attend a session as well; while Divya is ready to give it a try, how Rangesh is made to attend leaves you in splits.
But Mithra is a human, as imperfect as any of us, and so back home, we see a growing tightness at the heart of her husband Manohar (Vikram Prabhu) due to his wife’s constant ‘therapizing’ of him. Mithra holds her relationship with an iron fist, not letting even the tiniest of problems go unattended and conducts a weekly ‘honesty hour’ with her partner to boot. Manohar wishes his relationship was much simpler and easier, in which couples do as they like and fight if they want to. Now, does it all seem like its the men pointing fingers at women? Let’s come to that later.
Director: Yuvaraj Dhayalan
Cast: Shraddha Srinath, Vikram Prabhu, Vidharth, Sri, Saniya Iyappan, Abarnathy
Runtime: 153 minutes
Storyline: Three couples from different economic backgrounds find ways to fix their relationships
Firstly, how Yuvaraj brings humour to the mix works largely (of course barring the jabs at the expense of a woman’s body). For instance, in the beginning, Arjun-Divya’s story is told as one with no space for comedy, but when we dig deeper into the other two, we find late comedian Manobala in a cameo as Arjun’s boss. This matters as Yuvaraj’s screenplay technique pays off, every character gets their fair share, and you see the earnestness throughout the film.
But it’s the resolution for these well-written conflicts that are disappointing. The film fails in telling Pavithra that it’s alright for her body to stay the same — something that only Mithra stands by — but the narrative doesn’t quite support this. Some other unnecessary ideas are irksome, like how for everything the psychologist gets right, she gives into her husband’s belief that a possessiveness of a certain kind is an expression of love.
Also, considering all the individuality, self-esteem, and emotional liberation that Irugapatru bats for, it seems that the love it shows to each of the characters (by defining why they are the way they are) finds the film in a conundrum it never solves. In this world, the women end up being the only ones who do all the vital ‘actions’ to help their relationship — whether it’s staying away from their husbands, or blindly doing what they are told to by their partners — and the men are the ones who merely react.
What stands out about Irugapatru are the performances, especially from Shraddha, Vidharth, and Sri (notice during a montage, how Shraddha does nothing but grin to make us feel for Mithra). This is helped by Justin Prabhakaran’s hearty music, Gokul Benoy’s saccharine frames, and effective dialogues.
They say that even if therapy helps you solve 99 per cent of your problems, none of it would matter if you aren’t willing to put in that extra one per cent. Irugapatru is one such casual support circle discussion that might work for those who give in to its demands; if the film makes you look into the eyes of your loved one (what Mithra proposes we do every day) or introspect to learn from our mistakes, it’s a good evening at the movies.
Irugapatru is currently running in theatres