On this edition of Netflix Hidden Gems, we’re heading over to Asia. Our first pick is Love Today (2022), a quirky Indian romantic comedy. When you hear the words “Indian love story” you might think of stereotypical over-the-top soap opera-style Bollywood movies. Love Today brings us back down to earth with an unlikely but entirely plausible modern love story of courtship in the smartphone era.
The film was a box office success and received critical acclaim in India, but we at Big Picture Film Club think it deserves a little more love internationally. Mild spoilers ahead;
The Story and Characters
There’s an old saying; nothing is new under the sun. Contemporary film is littered with remakes and retellings of old stories. Now, this is one of the very few times when I can say this; I have never seen this story told before.
The film begins with a young boy planting a mango seed. He digs it up to check on it multiple times and is frutrated that it won’t sprout. Cut to the present day. Pradeep is a young man who spends his savings to buy his girlfriend, Nikitha, a new smartphone. He waxes poetic about how close they are and how they know everything about each other. Due to the social stigma around dating, Nikitha lies to her strict father about where she got the phone.
Unfortunately, her father still finds out. Pradeep has to formally introduce himself to Nikitha’s father as a suitor for marriage. The old man shocks them with a strange condition; he will allow them to marry only if they exchange phones for a day. Their seemingly perfect relationship begins to fall apart at the seams as both their secrets come to light. Then, an unexpected third party throws a wrench into the already collapsing structure.
The characters were all multi-dimensional and it was enjoyable to peel back each layer as the film progressed. No one was exactly whom they seemed to be. I applaud the moving subplot and stellar acting from the entire cast. Personally, I did not appreciate the focus on Nikitha’s purity. The moment that this sexual “purity” came into question, her community cast her to the dogs. Her reputation only survived once the accusation was proved to be false. On the other hand, most of Pradeep’s questionable behaviour was swept aside. The film holds women to the same impossible standards as hundreds of years ago.
The Visuals and Sound
The special effects in this film are impeccable. This is clear from the opening scene which shows each step of a smartphone being manufactured from with beautiful clarity. There was good visual storytelling, like the scene of the boy (later revealed to be Pradeep) planting a mango seed. The symbolism stood out to me. Nothing can truly grow, whether a seed or love, unless you leave it alone and trust that it will sprout. A lot of effort was taken to build up to the main story, even with a modest budget.
I appreciated the combination of more traditional shots, like the warm scenes of the couple sitting side-by-side on the beach, with the contemporary scenes of face timing, conference calls and scrolling through apps. The film featured mostly traditional Indian sounds complimented by techno-beats whenever the momentum picked up.
Before I Blab on for Too Long,
Pick up the remote and try this memorable rom-com. With heavy themes of gender roles, social expectations and just how dangerous (or liberating) technology can really be, the moral conclusions of this movie are up for debate. However, the high production quality cannot be denied and the comedic aspects are easy to appreciate. To the viewer, it really begs the question; how well do you really know the people you love?