What if an intensely-flawed couple – both partners stubborn in their respective stands – end up in a vicious, labyrinthine cycle of bonding and bitterness?
When Karthik first sees Jessie, the song in his head – and probably, taking a cue, his heart too – skips a beat.
He’s instinctively drawn towards her. Is it something about her smartness? Is it her aura? Or is it about her enticing imperfections? But, he, most certainly, feels that ‘something’ – a strange, ineffable urge to woo her – that drives him mad.
Karthik knows he needs Jessie to complete that missing piece of jaw-dropping art, which lies conceptualized within the barbed confines of his soul.
You get it? It’s the whimsical calling of a creator, trying to escape, at least, a part of his unexciting routine.
Jessie, on the other hand, is a deadly bundle of contradictions. Born in a conservative Malayali Christian family, she is what you could call a staggering mix of conservatism and free-spirit.
One moment, you think you have deciphered her. But the very next second, you know it’s utterly futile.
Jessie feels more shock than surprise, when she learns that the boy down-stairs is smitten by her. Understandably, you could say. But, how much of that is a conditioned response?
Does she like him? If yes, why doesn’t she want him to know that? Is she battling her own demons?
While Karthik treats love like an over-enthusiastic debutant director trying to sculpt his first film – reckless, dreamy and eager to make a difference, Jessie treats it like a newly- independent college fresher, being forced to smoke a joint – curious, resistant and apprehensive.
While Karthik is someone, who relies on his heart for making life-altering decisions, Jessie is the kind, who would pause for an extra moment and attempt to listen to reason. Or, what she perceives as reason.
What if these two decide to be ‘friends’ for a while?
Well.. a train journey is all it takes for them to realize the lost cause.
All subsequent conflict happens within their heads, with Jessie, in particular, going into exasperatingly indecisive pangs.
There are times that make us wonder if her mind is an engine or an exhaust. Is she the master of her thoughts or are her fears the result of deep thinking she’s only loosely aware of? There is a third possibility, of course, that is both, and it depends on her mood at the time.
One moment, she seems stubbornly in love, and the very next, she appears to be a very different person, torn between her dreams and reality.
From “How much of her erstwhile ties would she risk for Karthik?” through “Would she risk anything for Karthik at all?” to reach “Would she prefer to risk Karthik for her family?”, Jessie’s capriciousness messes with our heads.
Is her biggest flaw that of self-deception? Or is it her confounding trait?
Karthik, contrarily, seems to be at the other end of the emotional hurricane. On the surface, he’s joking and light, but he wants to pull her into his vortex and, with each jibe, Jessie can feel the winds clipping her core. And as tempting as it is to jump in – to take up the thrill of the challenge – the ground reality keeps pulling her back.
When you almost dismiss her as weak-hearted, she jolts you by calling off the marriage she’s forced into, right at the altar.
She continues her courtship with Karthik, and her belief in their relationship slowly strengthens. Every time he kisses her, she feels the world stop and disappear, leaving just the two of them to wander the earth. Every time, he holds her face between his hands, she senses her knots being untied, one at a time.
But again, just when they seem to be settling into a zone, her enthusiasm leaves her like an ink stain disappearing into blotting paper.
She’s broken when she hears her father say “Karthik can happen only over my dead body.” She probably wants to shout aloud, put up a tantrum and beat her hands on the ground like a sulking toddler. She wants to vent, let it out, but in the process, is she being hurtful?
You know, it’s just so easy to be impulsive at that moment, but the damage is done. You know you have been stupid. But, you can’t undo it. You can’t unsay things, take it back. It’s cruel.
But, why does Jessie behave the way she does?
Is she oxymoronically caged in a situation, where she derives her autonomy from her close bonds, so much so that the slightest imagination of any autonomy outside of those ties, makes her panic?
After a while, as the proceedings get muddled with endlessly expanding ripples, everything goes painfully kaput.
This whole thing might have played out as a beautiful, bittersweet disaster, but, isn’t that the very essence of love, in all its glory?