Some actors have great chemistry even when they live and ‘love’ apart. Some couples that we loved to see on-screen together for the sake of their great characterisation as an individual as well as a sweet counterpart within a relationship. These individuals managed to live well outside a romantic equation that was never meant to be. Cult classics like Thalapathy and Mouna Raagam convinced us that Rajini did not have to end up with Shobhana, nor did Revathy have to live happily ever after with Karthik – for us to irrespectively remember the evergreen chemistry between the pairs.
Here a few memorable duos from the recent decade (2010 - 2017) that never made it to a Tamil duet:
Sethupati – Sebastian (Kadhalum Kadhanthu Pogum, 2016)
Starting with the most recent, Vijay Sethupathi and Madonna Sebastian after a successful combo in Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum were a delight to watch in Kavan. What may seem a continuation of sorts, they hardly ‘needed’ each other in both movies, living their individual lives with much success yet made for great chemistry when they did come together on screen. Their script was that of the platonic relationship, wishing the best for each other, whilst living separate lives in the same city despite each other’s crucial impact on each other. The movie couldn’t have had a more fitting title. This story found universal appeal whether in Korea as My Dear Desperado (2010) or Hollywood’s Lalaland (2016).
Jai – Anjali (Engeyum Eppothum, 2011)
Jai and Anjali’s casting in Engeyum Eppothum was one of the major strengths of the 2011’a sleeper hit. Hardly do we get to see a bold and determined female lead in company of a shy and subordinate male. Anjali’s ‘I love you’ can be considered the most reluctant, somewhat despondent and wholly unromantic ‘yes’ to Jai and to manhood in general was the most underrated declaration of love that Tamil cinema has ever scripted. Her demand for Jai’s pathology (HIV) report marked the beginning of a new breed of no-nonsense heroines who are practical in thought and action when embarking on a relationship with a complete stranger. Forget the running-around-trees concept for this couple.
Arya – Nayanthara (Raja Rani, 2013)
The teaser of Raja Rani with Arya and Nayanthara fighting it out in front of the vanity table hinted that the movie was going to be everything but Romeo and Juliet. Atlee’s modern twist on Mouna Raagam and a couple’s hesitant entry into marriage (and unspoilt by any imperfect remakes) was pure cinema joy – vibrant colours, great music plus a Rani who called for the wrong Raja at her church wedding.
Saloni Luthra and Naveen Chandra (Sarabham, 2014)
The slick con-movie of 2014 had an equally stylish lead pair. They were partners in crime, one trying to outwit the other with the audience longing to see more movies with Saloni Luthra. There was no romance in this plot but the lead pair managed to leave an imprint of unscrupulous thirst for kasu-paanam-money nevertheless.
Sethupathi – Sanchita Shetty (Soodhu Kaavum, 2013)
The crazy kidnapper and his imaginary girlfriend. Yes, who didn’t love this couple? Sanchita Shetty’s act as the loyal girlfriend who was a true partner in ‘crime’ was a novel idea, a delight to watch and left us in splits. The (spoiler alert!) end to her story line in the pre-interval block left many in empathy with desperately crying ‘Mama’ Sethupathi. Fortunately the smart script (spoiler alert again!) allowed for her re-entry (in real form) towards the end of the cult classic and left fans hoping that Soodhu Kaavum 2 may one day materialise.
Arya – Amy Jackson (Madrassapattinam, 2010)
Madrasapattinam was a nostalgic visual delight and introduced Tamil cinema’s most favourite and mesmerising Anglo-beauty – Amy Jackson. With only a few words exchanged between Arya and Amy, it remains etched as Tamil cinema’s romantic take on Titanic and provided a soundtrack (‘Pookal Pookum’) for a gazillion wedding and engagement videos to follow.
Simbhu – Trisha (Vinnaithandi Varuvaya, 2010)
Vinnaithandi Varuvaya was the second casting of this pair and stands as Gautham Menon’s best romantic tragedy till date. The realism in the situation (yes, she was going to choose the America Mappillai) and Simbhu’s new look and convincing mature act marked this movie classic apart. The unexpected twist at the end turning out to be just right (at least in the Tamil version)….
Sneha – Kishore (Haridas, 2013)
Strictly speaking Haridas was a movie narrating the father-son bond, in this case with the added complexities of dealing with an autistic child. Though the Sneha-Kishore Kumar connect was not the pivot of the film, audiences did received the nuanced performance of both actors well. Emotions emoted through looks alone were a major driving force feeding the realism of the relationship between both carers – a narrative style almost borrowed from Malayalam cinema.
Vishnu Vishal – Sunaina (Neerparavai, 2012)
Shortly before Mani Ratnam’s release of Kadal, another fisherman’s story starring Vishnu Vishal and Sunaina reached the theatre. With an A-class act and gripping story, many wished that Mani Ratnam had taken a cue from Seenu Ramasamy at a time the killing of Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan navy personnel were making daily headlines. Sunaina as the waiting lover, looking into the horizon left the audience hoping the hero would, somehow, return.
Aari – Shubha Phuteli (Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakathilaey, 2012)
Maalai Pozhudin Mayakathilaey caught my attention for its catchy tunes and the plot – the longest coffee conversation in the history of Tamil cinema. The tragic real-life death of Shubha Phuteli made further headlines. An interesting concept with an interesting new pair, set in the smallest of premises was a sleeper hit and proof that big budgets are rarely a criteria for entertaining cinema.
Nivin Pauly – Malar (Premam, 2016)
The ultimate unmet couple of recent years, and the favourite portion of Premam reminded us that love can come in stages, can happen with different people yet never undermining the emotion that sits at the bottom of the heart – that is unwilling to forget. How can one not feel happy when one’s love falls in love and is truly happy once again? And who didn’t agree that the ending was just as it should have been?
There may be countless and from memory it is probably Vijay Sethupathi who walks away with the highest number of half-baked romances (Sanchita Shetty in Soodhu Kaavum, Tamannah in Dharmadurai, Ritika Singh in Aandavan Kattalai, Anjali in Iraivi, Remya Naambeesan in Pizza). Leaving things unsaid makes for an agreeable ‘hit’ – at least in low to medium-budget south Indian movies of recent years.
As someone once said; perhaps the most romantic stories are those that never really happened ….
Written by: D Arachi
Photo Credits: Respective sources via Google Images