Dancing in the moonlight

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For some, saying “I’ve never been happier” means financial security, mental stability or spiritual affordability. For others, it just means they aren’t self-destructing with the inelegance of a dry drunk chasing a chicken through an active minefield. For the lead pair in Selvamani Selvaraj’s Nila, it means a stolen glance in the taxi’s rear-view mirror or a conversation about what-ifs while eating ice cream.

Netflix says it’s one for hopeless romantics. In fairness, it’s about two hopeless romantics. If you’re one, please avoid it. You’ll start thinking about the one that got away from you. But if you’re a pragmatic person, it may pierce through the calcification in your Captain Intelligentsia armor.

Nila delivers gentle kidney shots. There are no knockout blows. Even when the silence gets awkward, it’s intentional. Every other long pause or stretched-out passage where seemingly nothing happens is layered with unfeigned emotions. A lot of the punching duties fall on the shoulders of the lead pair – Sruthi Hariharan and Vicky Vijai. Shot in dark settings, they look stunning under the moonlight, as their gorgeous features dance in front of the camera. They recall the terrific performances of George O’Brien and Margaret Livingston in FW Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. The latter’s an extramarital affair in a silent drama. The former is…well, it’s a complicated relationship in an uncomplicated movie.

The other onscreen characters come across as amateurish. But they don’t linger to haunt – unlike everything else.

There’s no guarantee you’ll enjoy the journey that Nila takes you on. Some may argue the destination isn’t clear. That sums up life, doesn’t it? There are no guarantees. If you don’t see the end coming, you exit the stage with a stupid look on our faces. Many a time, life does not give you the wiggle room to think about whether the ride was worth the effort.

But cinema always does.

Watch on Netflix

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